Stoneman murders started back in 1985 in Sion, a highly-populated area in the most happening city ai, India. The name Stoneman was given by a popular English press in Calcutta, as a second edition of the same series of murders were reported in Kolkata too.
The modus operandi of all the murders was simple. The killer would approach homeless people such as beggars, rag pickers, or even drainage workers who slept on the pavements at night and threw a heavy stone or a concrete block from the nearby pavement of about 30kg on them crushing their skull to immediate death.
The only things left in the crime scene would be the stone and the victim’s corpse. Till today neither including police or any other investigative agencies found the real culprit behind the Stoneman murders and hence the case remains unsolved!
Before describing the case in detail, let’s also have a look at The mysterious case study of Pedro Lopez which also remains unsolved till date.
Sion, Mumbai in 1985
One fine morning in October 1985 a dead ragpicker was found by a sweeper while cleaning the footpaths in Sion, Mumbai. He reported this to the nearest south police station.
On reaching the crime scene, police could not identify the victim. He was homeless and slept on the pavement with no family either. The corpse’s head was crushed and a 30 kg stone was found next to his body. No fingerprints or any other sorts of evidence were found. Just like how a beggar’s death in India would be treated, this case too was ignored.
One week after this incident, similar types of crimes were reported across various areas of Sion in a gap of five days. The fifth one happened near the police station. It is then that the police started to observe a pattern in the crime.
Residents of Mumbai were in a panic. The city which never sleeps was deserted by 9-10 pm. People started evacuating parks and local shops earlier than before. There was a sense of tension all around the city.
Police too started a thorough investigation into the details of the crime. In all the five murders, the evidence was the 30 kg stone. Sometimes if there is no stone nearby, the killer would have used a concrete block weighing about the same. Also, the culprit made sure that the victim was dead by one sharp blow on the skull by the stone. On examining the stone all they could find was the bloodstains of the victim.
With no further improvement in the investigation, the case was handed over to the commissioner. However, it still stood at a dead end.
Thirteen murders happened across Sion during the period 1985-1988. All of them were homeless rag pickers or beggars crushed to death. But none of the agencies could solve the mystery. And just like how it started, the crimes ended.
Also have a look at the Whitechapel murders by Jack the Ripper that shocked the London City in 1888-89.
Kolkata in 1989
In June 1989, a drainage cleaner was found dead in the area adjoining the Howrah bridge. The crime scene and the method of crime were similar to that of the Stoneman murders. The typical 30kg stone, skull crushed thoroughly, all of it was the same.
However, police denied that it need not necessarily be the same killer, and could also be a copycat crime. In many cases, a culprit was inspired by the method in which someone committed a crime and has tried several times to represent the same thing.
The murders continued, and every time it was around the Howrah bridge due to which the police started night patrolling. They even disguised themselves as pavement dwellers and lay down, however, the murderer still could not be caught.
Soon after the tenth murder, the next day morning a sweeper approached the police claiming that somebody tried killing him with a stone around 3 AM while he was asleep on the footpath adjoining the Howrah bridge, he ran as fast as he could. But he could not identify the killer as it was night but the police did not believe his theory.
There were also circumstances where a cleaner pointed Arkam, an auto-rickshaw driver could be the culprit. But he did not have a body built to lift 30 kg of stone and the suggestion was dismissed. Murders in Kolkata continued just like in Mumbai. The culprit committed 13 murders. It did not last for more than a year, the crimes stopped just like that in December 1989. Even then the case remained unsolved.
Assumptions and Researches of Media and Civilians
India being one of the richest countries in terms of heritage and culture, always believed in supernatural forces. When the murders initially started in Sion, the locals thought it was some sort of black magic because Sion is a well-known area for Tantric superstitious procedures in Mumbai.
Many believers performed these kinds of rituals in Sion. As much as anybody would love a good horror story, people in Kolkata believed that the murders are committed by an evil spirit that aims to see the destruction of goddesses in the holy city (Kolkata is well known for its beautiful rituals to goddesses during Navratri, nine days long Hindu festival).
Keeping aside beliefs that were far beyond human understanding, The Times of India had published a research article on these murders a few years after the Kolkata incidents. They observed one more similarity to this case, which was that in both Mumbai and Kolkata places where murders took place had high numbers of Bangladesh migrants.
In April 2020, a series of five murders were reported in Kolkata with the same modus operandi. The police suggested that it typically reminded them of The Stoneman Murders. The investigation is still ongoing.
Twenty-six murders. All of them without a single trace of evidence other than the stone. As much as the case was baffling, the police and the media described the killer to be extremely intelligent, such that not even a single fingerprint was left on the crime scene or the stone as such.
In 2009 a film was made on it titled ‘The Stoneman Murders‘ directed by Manish Gupta. However, the director and the police confirmed that the movie is 70% fictional. Stoneman murders remains a mystery up to date.