SYDNEY (AFP) - An Indian woman was stabbed to death in a Sydney park in a brutal attack while speaking by phone to her distraught husband in India, the police said on Monday.
IT professional Prabha Arun Kumar, 41, was knifed as she took a shortcut home through Parramatta Park in the city's west at around 9.30pm on Saturday night.
Police refused to reveal details of the phone call, but reports said she told her husband: “He stabbed me, darling", before the conversation abruptly ended.
“He’s understandably extremely distressed,” homicide squad commander Michael Willing said of Ms Kumar’s husband, who jetted into Australia on Monday and was helping the police with their investigation.“Here we have an Indian national who has been in the country for some time, going about her business and ends up being killed in a very vicious way.”
The police appealed for help from the public, releasing footage of Ms Kumar walking from Parramatta Railway Station.
“It’s a horrific crime. It’s a very, very disturbing crime,” Mr Willing added.
“We think that she sustained a number of injuries to the neck area with what we believe is a sharp-edged weapon.”
The police said there was nothing to suggest the murder of Ms Kumar, who reportedly planned to move back to India to be with her husband and nine-year-old daughter, was racially motivated.“Could this be a random attack? Well, yes it could. It could be a whole range of scenarios... and we are considering all of them,” Mr Willing said.
The woman was found by a passer-by shortly afterwards and rushed to hospital but she had lost too much blood and doctors were unable to save her. She had been just 300m from home.
"It is a horrific attack without any stretch of the imagination," police Superintendent Wayne Cox said.
Ms Kumar's husband flew to Australia from India, where both he and their daughter live, after the attack, but reportedly arrived to be told that his wife had died.
The dead woman's flatmate said Ms Kumar had probably not wanted to bother anyone to ask for a lift home after finishing work late and arriving at Parramatta train station at 9pm.
Instead, she decided to walk, and was attacked near a tree-lined path where bouquets of flowers were on Monday left in her honour.
“Dear Prabha, may your soul rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this moment,” read a note on one bunch.
"Because she was working late regularly, she felt bad to ask for help," her flatmate, who asked to be identified as Sarada, told The Daily Telegraph.
"Maybe that is the reason she didn't call."
Sarada said she had repeatedly warned her friend not to walk through the park after dark.
"I told her that it is not a safe way to come through because there are people that stop and ask you for money, like $2," she said.
"I don't know how I am going to face her husband. She is very close to her husband and her daughter.
"She talks to them every day, as soon as she finishes work she calls her husband and keeps talking. She has a good family."
Police have established a task force to investigate the murder but no arrests have so far been made.
A spate of violent crimes against Indian students in Australia in 2010, including the stabbing murder of 21-year-old Punjab man Nitin Garg as he walked to work at a fast-food restaurant in Melbourne, heightened tensions between Australia and India.
But since then, the number of tourists visiting from India has picked up, and India's prime minister Narendra Modi has described warmer relations between the nations as "natural" during a 2014 visit.