Talking Parrot's Testimony Condemns Killers to Life Imprisonment 9 Years After Murder
Pets cries lead to life sentence.
A murder case in India had an unusual informant: A parrot whose cries led police to the two people responsible, India Today reported. Nine years after the murder, two men were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in killing the wife of a prominent journalist. Read on to find out more about the case and why this isn't the first example of a feathered informant whose testimony led police to a guilty party.
Parrot's Cries Lead to Life Sentence
Neelam Sharma, the wife of Vijay Sharma, editor-in-chief of a prominent newspaper, was murdered in the family's Agra home on Feb. 20, 2014. The police had no leads until Vijay's pet parrot started screaming the name of the man's nephew, India Today reported. Vijay became suspicious after hearing the parrot's cries and asked the police to interview his nephew Ashu Sharma. The man confessed to murdering Neelam with the assistance of a friend named Ronnie Massey. Last week, Special Judge Mohammad Rashid sentenced both Ashu and Massey to life in prison.
What Happened After the Murder
According to India Today, Vijay Sharma left his home on Feb. 20, 2014, to attend a wedding with his son and daughter. Neelam stayed behind. When Vijay returned home late at night, he found the bodies of his wife and pet dog. Both had been killed with a sharp object. In the following days, Vijay noticed the pet parrot had fallen silent and stopped eating and drinking. He suspected the bird may have witnessed the murder. When he began naming suspects one by one in front of the parrot, the bird was "horrified" by Ashu's name and began screaming "Ashu-Ashu," the news outlet reported.
Bird Gave Consistent Testimony
Vijay brought the bird in front of the police, where it had the same reaction to Ashu's name. He was arrested and confessed to stabbing Neelam 14 times and the family's pet dog nine times. The parrot was mentioned throughout the court case but was not produced as evidence, the news outlet reported.
Nephew Familiar With House
Vijay's daughter, Nivedita Sharma told India Today that Ashu was familiar with the house—he would come and go as he pleased and even stayed there for a time. Knowing where jewelry and cash were kept, he planned a robbery. His only intention was to kill and loot, she told the news outlet. Nivedita said the family's bird died six months after the incident. Vijay Sharma died in November 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Another Feathered Informant
The Sharmas' bird wasn't the first parrot to help police solve a grisly crime. In 2015, Michigan police were called to the home of Glenna and Martin Duram by a neighbor, who found the couple had been apparently shot by an intruder. Martin had been shot five times and killed; Glenna had been shot in the head twice but was still alive. She was rushed to the hospital. Soon after the incident, Bud, the couple's African gray parrot, was sent to live with Martin's previous wife. The bird began to re-enact arguments using two voices and screamed "Don't f—–g shoot" in Martin's voice. Glenna Duram ultimately was sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband in a botched murder-suicide.