KATHMANDU, APR 22 – Police on Tuesday made public Dhal Bahadur Khadka aka Gokul, the suspect in the murder of Father Thomas Gaffney, 18 years after the incident. Khadka, a domestic help at Fr Gaffney’s residence in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur, had been on the run.
Khadka, 43, was arrested from Kakadvitta while he was coming in from India on Monday. Nepal Police had appointed a dozen officers to solve the murder mystery. Fr Gaffney, who started a drug rehabilitation centre in Nepal for the first time, was found dead on his mattress on the floor of his social centre and home at about 10.30pm on December 13, 1997 with his throat slit but with no evidence of a struggle.
According to SSP Pushkar Karki, chief of the Metropolitan Police Crime Investigation Division, Khadka would occasionally visit Kakadvitta and sometimes up to Itahari. But he never visited his family in Sindhupalchok. “We were able to arrest him during one such occasion,” said SSP Karki. “We traced Khadka’s phone number through informants and hunted him.”
Police said Khadka was acquainted with Gaffney by Sun Daate and Man Bahadur Bhandari who had worked for him as domestic helps. Around a week before the incident, Khadka regularly visited Gaffney’s house.
Fr Gaffney had reportedly not paid Khadka for long despite assurance that he would get his money soon. “On the night of the murder, Khadka had hidden a khukuri in Gaffney’s room and they had drunk coffee together. When he asked Gaffney for his pay, he refused to give him,” said SSP Karki. Khadka had then attacked him with the weapon.
He fled the scene taking away Rs22,000. He had cleaned himself in Kalopul, Lalitpur. After spending a night
there, he went to Dakshinkali and took a bus later to Itahari in order to evade arrest. He had then made his way to India.
According to sources involved in investigation, Khadka told the police that he had resorted to murder after Gaffney forced him to have oral sex with him and perform other homo-sexual acts.
From the crime site in Jhamsikhel, police had then recovered two cups of coffee and packets of condom.
Born in the United States, Gaffney established a drug rehabilitation centre in Nepal in 1983. He had acquired Nepali citizenship in 1972 and also taught at St Xavier’s School in Godavari.