01/19/2007

Las Vegas: Routine interview prompts murder confession

Editor's Note: Asking the right questions is crucial when interviewing someone about a crime – it can even turn a 'routine' interview into a confession. For further reading, visit the Interview and Interrogation Tips and Case Studies column, by John E. Reid & Associates, Inc.

By David Kihara
Las Vegas Review-Journal

When Metropolitan Police Department detectives said that when they visited 21-year-old Pachalo Chipeta at the county jail Tuesday, they hoped to get some basic information on Chipeta's former roommate, who was found dead in a suitcase.

They walked away from the jail with a detailed confession on how Chipeta killed Sanjay Makhijani with an ax, stuffed his body in the suitcase and dumped it in the desert near Tropicana Avenue and Boulder Highway, according to a police report.

Chipeta already had been arrested and booked Friday into the Clark County Detention Center on burglary charges. On Tuesday, he was rebooked on charges of murder with a deadly weapon for the killing of Makhijani.

Makhijani, 33, was found in the suitcase by two teens playing Jan. 6 in the desert area near Sam Boyd Stadium. He had several lacerations on his body, and someone had placed a plastic Food 4 Less bag over his head.

The detectives met with Chipeta at the jail Tuesday. They wanted to ask him about where Makhijani was living and where the victim's car was.

During the interview, one of the detectives asked Chipeta whether there was any chance his fingerprints might be on the suitcase in question because they once lived together.

Chipeta then put his head back, rolled his eyes back and said, "My prints will be on the suitcase ... because I did it," according to an arrest report.

He then described, in detail, about how he went to a Home Depot on Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard to buy an ax to kill Makhijani, the report stated.

Chipeta told police that he killed his roommate when he wasn't thinking clearly because of cocaine use, said Sgt. Rocky Alby of the Las Vegas police's homicide unit.

Copyright 2007 DR Partners d/b/a Las Vegas Review-Journal
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