A young dentist was stabbed to death in a hotel bathroom by her jealous ex-lover who then stuffed her body into a suitcase, a coroner has ruled.
Preethi Reddy, 32, was murdered by Harshwardhan Narde, 34, on March 3, 2019, after telling him she was moving away to marry another man.
Deputy Coroner Carmel Forbes ruled Dr Reddy died at the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD from blunt force trauma and stab wounds to the head and back.
‘Far too often we see women killed by current or former partners,’ she told the NSW Coroner’s Court in Lidcome on Wednesday.
‘Dr Reddy was with Dr Narde that night trying to be compassionate and understanding towards him and trying to give him closure on their ended relationship.’
Preethi Reddy, 32, (pictured) was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, fellow dentist Harshwardhan Narde, 34, on March 3, 2019
Narde and Dr Reddy spent five years in a tumultuous on-again off-again relationship starting in 2014, but had broken up for good a year earlier.
Dr Reddy told friends she was moving to Melbourne to be with her new boyfriend whom she hoped to marry, and met with Narde one last time to tell him.
Enraged, Narde bashed and stabbed her to death in the ensuite bathroom, stuffed her body into a suitcase, and dumped it in the boot of her own car.
The next day he deliberately drove his BMW into a truck on a highway north of Sydney, dying in a fiery crash.
Narde and Dr Reddy spent five years in a tumultuous on-again off-again relationship starting in 2014, but had broken up for good a year earlier
Narde and Dr Reddy were attending the same dental conference in St Leonards on March 1-2 last year, having not seen each other for months.
They had dinner at an Indian restaurant in nearby Crows Nest before talking more in Dr Reddy’s car.
CCTV showed Narde extend his arms toward Dr Reddy, then give her a shove when she recoiled and took a step back, causing her to stumble.
But Narde still managed to convince her to come to his room at the Swissotel in the Sydney CBD afterwards.
It was a desperate attempt by Narde to convince her to give their relationship another try, but he was instead told of her plans to move to Melbourne.
Dr Reddy was next seen on CCTV buying two bottles of water from a McDonald’s in The Strand Arcade in the CBD about 2.15am on March 3.
At 10.47am she spoke to her family by phone, saying she was getting a late breakfast and would be home in a few hours.
‘How are you dad? I’m just charging my phone, then I’m going to get some breakfast and come home,’ she told her father Narasimha Reddy.
Harshwardhan Narde (pictured) died in a fiery crash on the New England Highway in NSW on Monday, a day after Preethi Reddy, 32, vanished from Sydney’s CBD
Dr Reddy was stabbed to death in Narde’s room at the Swissotel in the Sydney CBD. He then stuffed her in a suitcase and got an unwitting porter to help him load it into the boot of her car
She then called her new boyfriend and told him the same thing. It was not known if Narde overheard this call, which would have fuelled his rage.
Dr Reddy was about an hour later seen on CCTV in the Swissotel lobby, and the last activity on her mobile phone was in the Sydney CBD at 2.41pm.
Shortly before the last phone ping, Narde was seen leaving the hotel at 1.15pm. He then ate at a food court.
CCTV coming back to the Swissotel captured him carrying bags of cleaning products including bleach, gloves, and absorbent paper towel.
He then went to Myer, next door to his hotel, to buy the large suitcase Dr Reddy’s body would later be found in.
Narde did such a thorough job of cleaning the bathroom that staff did not suspect anything untoward, until police asked to be allowed in to investigate.
Soon after 4pm Narde took the suitcase containing her body downstairs to the hotel lobby and left it there while he fetched her car.
Narde asked for help from a hotel porter to lift the suitcase into the boot, telling them it was heavy from all the ‘shopping’ he had bought.
From there he drove the grey Volkswagen Golf to Kingsford, about 7km to the south, parked it on quiet Strachan Lane, and walked away.
Police believe he chose the street because he was familiar with the area from when he lived in Sydney and knew many cars were parked on it so it wouldn’t stand out.
Narde then doubled back to his own car and drove 400km north to his home in Tamworth in the NSW Hunter region.
About 5.30am on Monday, when Dr Reddy hadn’t returned home, a close friend sent frantic messages to Narde to see if he had heard from her.
‘Hey I spoke to her in person on Saturday evening… she said [that she was going] home,’ he replied.
Dr Reddy’s friend wrote back: ‘Maybe she is sleeping somewhere’ – to which Narde eerily replied ‘maybe’.
Narde then told the friend he had spoken with Dr Reddy’s sister Nithya and the family was very worried, but said he had no idea where she might be.
‘I don’t know what to say, we spoke after a few months, a gap of over 4/5 months… I just woke up and looking at this,’ he wrote.
When the friend said she was scared Narde replied: ‘I feel disturbed as well… am sitting at one place for the last 30 minutes.’
Dr Reddy was last seen alive on CCTV waiting in line at McDonald’s in The Strand Arcade, off George Street, about 2.15am on Sunday
About 5.30am on Monday when Dr Reddy hadn’t returned home, a close friend sent frantic messages to Narde to see if he’d heard from her
Narde then told her had spoken with Dr Reddy’s sister Nithya and the family was very worried, but said he had no idea where she might be
At the same time, Narde was misleading Dr Reddy’s own family by playing dumb to her sister Nithya about where she was.
He had missed two calls on Sunday night but finally called her back on Monday morning, sounding oddly calm about his vanished ex.
Narde called Nithya four more times over the next 12 hours, sounding increasingly unhinged with conflicting stories about Dr Reddy’s last hours
TIMELINE TO MURDER
Saturday, March 2
7pm: Preethi Reddy leaves a dental convention in St Leonards on Sydney’s north shore and talked with her ex-boyfriend Harshwardhan Narde.
The pair had dinner at an Indian restaurant in Crows Nest later that night before going to his room at the Swissotel in Sydney’s CBD.
Sunday, March 3
2.15am: Dr Reddy is seen at a McDonald’s on George Street in the Sydney CBD.
10.47am: Dr Reddy last spoke to her family, telling them she planned to head home in a few hours after having a late breakfast.
1.15pm: Narde is seen buying a suitcase and cleaning products to cover up the murder
1.47pm: Dr Reddy’s phone was last active according to mobile data.
4pm: Narde leaves the hotel, gets a porter to load the suitcase into Dr Reddy’s car, and dumps the car in a quiet street
Dr Reddy’s family reported her missing later that night and Narde was questioned hours later.
Monday, March 4
5.30am: Narde replied to frantic text messages from a friend about Dr Reddy, denying he knew where she was.
10pm: Narde died after deliberately driving his BMW head-on into a truck.
Tuesday, March 5
9.30pm: Dr Reddy’s body is found stuffed inside a suitcase in the boot of her grey Volkswagen Golf on a street in Kingsford.
‘I didn’t tell you the full truth, we did have dinner last night,’ he finally admitted to her.
Nithya told him to make a statement to police about what he knew, in case that would help in finding her.
But neither Nithya nor Dr Reddy’s new boyfriend suspected he could be involved – he was too insistent on finding her and was full of suggestions.
This was all an effort to send her friends and family on a wild goose chase and obscure his involvement – he knew exactly where she was.
Dr Reddy was already dead.
Narde made two statements to police, saying they had dinner on the night of March 2, then she dropped him off in Crows Nest and went home.
He later told officers he stayed at a backpackers hostel that night and paid cash.
With the net closing in, about 10pm on the Monday evening he deliberately drove his BMW into the path of a semi-trailer and killed himself.
The 49-year-old driver of the truck was able to pull himself free before his semi-trailer burst into flames.
Narde’s brother Dr Alok Narde claimed his brother seemed ‘composed’ during a three-minute phone call with a friend just 15 minutes before the crash.
‘He concluded the conversation assuring the friend that he is dropping his plan to go to Sydney and returning back home,’ the brother said at the time.
‘He was still composed even after day-long grill [by police] and conscious enough to follow traffic sense and rules such as stopping vehicle prior to taking a call.’
It would be another almost 24 hours until a frantic search found Dr Reddy’s car about 9.30pm on March 5, and the grim discovery was made.
Narde is believed to have stabbed Dr Reddy to death in a jealous rage after she told him they had no future as a couple.
‘The intention of their conversation was that she really just wanted him to move on because she had,’ police told Daily Mail Australia at the time.
A close friend of Dr Reddy suspected Narde ‘snapped’ when they had dinner on the Sunday night and learned of her plans to move on with her new boyfriend.
They believed Dr Reddy agreed to have dinner with Narde to gently ‘tell him it was over once and for all and he needed to move on’.
‘I wish she never felt sorry for him, she was too nice,’ Dr Reddy’s friend told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She saw him depressed and blamed herself and thought one dinner will not harm me. And the dinner dragged on and on.’
Narde’s brother Dr Alok Narde (pictured together) claimed his brother seemed ‘composed’ during a three-minute phone call with a friend just 15 minutes before the crash
Dr Reddy stayed at a hotel on Market Street in the CBD on Sunday with a man understood to be her ex-boyfriend. The man later died after he deliberately crashed his BMW head-on into a truck (pictured)
Friends said Narde had told her he wanted to open his own practice in Sydney to be with her, but Dr Reddy told him she was moving to Melbourne where her new boyfriend lived.
Texts exchanged between Ms Reddy and her friend showed she was excited to move to Melbourne, and was even looking for jobs there.
‘I love him so much, I can’t wait for you to meet him,’ she wrote in December after a trip to visit her boyfriend in Melbourne.
‘I wanna get married, I can’t wait.’
However, while madly in love and moving on with her life, Dr Reddy still couldn’t completely cast her old flame aside.
‘I’m so glad you finally dumped [Narde] and moved ahead,’ the friend wrote, but Dr Reddy replied ‘you make me sound like such a bitch’.
It followed a tumultuous five-year relationship that ended for good in 2018, after which Dr Reddy started dating her new boyfriend that November.
Dr Reddy met Narde, a fellow dentist, in 2014 during a course and they dated until 2016 but were on-again off-again by later in that year.
Weeks before her 30th birthday in October that year, while they were ‘on a break’, Narde was contacting her friends trying to organise her party.
Ms Reddy eventually opted to not tell him about her celebration at a restaurant in Coogee because she didn’t want her friends to know they were seeing each other.
‘He was always forcing things, even when they weren’t a couple, and she’d go along with it even if she just wanted to be friends,’ the friend said.
Ms Reddy opted to not tell Narde about her 30th birthday celebration at a restaurant in Coogee because she didn’t want her friends to know they were seeing each other again
Dr Reddy (third from left) felt so awkward about finally breaking up with Narde (third from right) in early 2018 breakup that she hung out with him at last year’s conference in March
Dr Reddy (right) left a dental conference, where she was learning about dental implants, about 7pm before she went to dinner with Narde
By 2017, Dr Reddy decided to give the relationship another try and spent a lot of time in Tamworth, in NSW’s Upper Hunter region, where Narde worked.
‘Harsh kept complaining that she wasn’t trying to get a job in Tamworth and blamed her for everything wrong with the relationship,’ the friend said.
‘He was very possessive.’
The close friend said Dr Reddy ‘admired Narde’s work’ but her boyfriend would always get angry when she suggested how he could do better.
Dr Reddy alternated between not wanting to tell her friends, family, and colleagues she was back together with Narde, and not wanting to say they broke up.
She felt so awkward about finally breaking up with Narde in early 2018 that she sat with him at last year’s conference in March.
Narde found it even harder to let go, insisting they were ‘meant to be’ and kept trying to get back together.
Dr Reddy alternated between not wanting to tell her friends, family, and colleagues she was back together with Narde, and not wanting to say they broke up
Dr Reddy was last seen at a McDonald’s before her body was found in a suitcase in her car on Tuesday March 5, 2019. Narde died in a car crash the night before
Pictured are Dr Reddy’s last movements before her disappearance. Her ex-boyfriend died near Tamworth (right) on March 4
He took off on a long overseas trip, returning in mid-February this year when Dr Reddy confided in her friend that she was worried about him.
On March 1 when she was at the Bungalow 8 nightclub in Darling Harbour after the first day of the conference, she spoke about how hard Narde being there was.
‘Preethi said he wasn’t himself, that there was something off about him,’ they said.
Within 48 hours, Ms Reddy was reported missing after not returning home and hundreds of friends and family were desperately searching for her.
Her death, and particularly the grisly way she was murdered and the crime concealed, rocked her tight-knit family to its core.
A source close to the family told Daily Mail Australia the ‘studious’ young woman’s father was in anguish wondering about her last moments.
‘He knew she must have been frightened and wondered if she suffered. He feels very helpless,’ they said.
Her body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in the boot of her grey Volkswagen Golf (pictured) at Kingsford, in Sydney’s south-east
‘Harsh’, as his friends called him, previously owned his own dental practice and received his Australian Dental Council qualification in 2013
Dr Reddy’s sister Nithya (left) said Narde pretended he had not idea where she was when she spoke with him five times the day after she was dead
‘He admired how she was studious and always wanted to learn more and he was so proud of her.’
Meanwhile, Ms Reddy’s mother was repeating over and over: ‘My daughter is never coming home, I don’t have a daughter anymore, I’ve lost my daughter’.
Friends rallied around the family at their home in Penrith, western Sydney, as they struggled to deal with what happened to their daughter.
‘They were looking forward to a wedding but instead she went to a conference and never came back,’ the source said.
More than a hundred mourners, mostly from Sydney’s Indian community, packed a hall at Pinegrove Memorial Park in Minchinbury, western Sydney, for Dr Reddy’s funeral.
So many mourners attended that dozens had to stand outside the chapel and listen as there was nowhere near enough room inside.
More than a hundred mourners packed a hall at Pinegrove Memorial Park in Minchinbury, western Sydney, for Dr Reddy’s funeral
Preethi Reddy, 32, (pictured) vanished from Sydney’s CBD hours after the Mardi Gras parade
The service, which preceded Dr Reddy’s body being cremated, was quickly organised after a post-mortem examination was completed on Friday.
‘Your beautiful smile will be forever etched in our hearts,’ a friend said after the service.
That evening, dozens of others attended a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Sydney Town Hall, including friends, former classmates, and members of the public.
Well-wishers left bouquets of flowers and messages of remembrance and support for Dr Reddy’s family on the steps beside smiling photos of her.
Her ashes are scattered in three places: the Ganges River in India, in another a river close to her father dad’s hometown of Telangana in India and along the Nepean River in Penrith.
Finally, she is home again.