By STEPHANIE MARCH.
Police in India believe a 75-year-old Australian grandmother was murdered in the country’s south over several hundred dollars in cash and some jewellery.
Police exhumed the body of Sydney resident Toni Anne Ludgate on Saturday after a two-month search.
Ms Ludgate was reportedly doing charity work at the ashram of popular Hindu guru Sai Baba, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, when she went missing in August.
Police said three men, including the guard at the building where she was living, were arrested.
Police Inspector B Venugopal told the ABC investigators believe Ms Ludgate gave the guard approximately $600 to pay her rent, but he only passed $200 to the landlord.
Inspector Venugopal said when Ms Ludgate asked for the money back a few days later the guard and his two friends murdered her.
“They went 16 kilometres into the fields and they buried her,” he said.
“They burned all her belongings – laptop and camera and documents … and passport.
“After that they kept quiet.”
Inspector Venugopal said police suspected the guard may have been involved after he told investigators he had not seen Ms Ludwig since August 24; others had reportedly seen her in the area up until August 28.
He said the accused eventually confessed and told police where to find her body.
Police said her remains were cremated in a traditional Hindu ceremony at the request of her family.
They said the accused are facing murder charges but the investigation is ongoing – in order to recover Ms Ludgate’s phone which they believe the guard sold or gave to a friend who has since left the state.
Earlier this month Ms Ludgate’s daughter Traci Harding released a YouTube video offering a reward for any information that would lead to finding her mother.
In the video Ms Harding said her mother was a seasoned traveller who visited India every year to do charity work.
Ms Harding said her mother was a “deeply humane and compassionate person and well loved by all who know her”.
This story was originally published on ABC and has been republished with full permission. You can read the original story on the ABC website here.
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