A review of the 2008 murder mystery of Indian immigrant, Arpana Jinaga, in Redmond, Washington | CJ Coombs | NewsBreak Original (2024)

A review of the 2008 murder mystery of Indian immigrant, Arpana Jinaga, in Redmond, Washington | CJ Coombs | NewsBreak Original (1)

Arpana Jinaga.The Seattle Times.

Note to Reader: One of the victim’s neighbor’s name is fictitious since he was never charged with a crime. He will be referred to as “Jack.”

On November 1, 2008, a young, smart, and a driven 24-year-old woman named Arpana Jinaga was found murdered in her apartment in Redmond, Washington.

Some background

Since Arpana’s Jinaga’s murder, one man was accused, tried twice, and acquitted. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. In the second trial, the accused was found not guilty. For the purpose of this story, we’re going to respectfully refer to the victim by her first name to raise an incredible person’s memory.

Arpana was an immigrant from India, graduating from Rutgers University. Arpana was very intelligent. She was a software quality engineer. She was very outgoing and having only lived in Redmond for eight months, she sought out opportunities like volunteering at the Redmond Fire Department. She practiced martial arts, participated in a motorcycle riders club called the Pacific Northwest Riders, and was a volunteer for organizations of unwanted pets. From everything I have learned about Arpana, she was positive, driven to succeed, and an upbeat helper.

October 31,2008

It’s Halloween. Arpana and neighbors within the Valley View Apartment complex threw a large Halloween party. Arpana dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood and her apartment was one of four areas in the complex that had themed decorations. Hers was a haunted forest. People were taking pictures and partying. After a while, the rowdy ones were asked to leave.

The silence

Arpana had daily calls with her family back in India. After two days when Arpana’s family had not heard from her and could not get a hold of her, they reached out to a family friend. When the friend was on his way up to the apartment, he ran into one of her neighbors named Jack (fictitious name since he was never charged). They both go up to the apartment, notice the door had been broken into, and when they reached the bedroom, her nude body was seen lying on the floor at the foot of the bed.

The crimescene

Arpana had been gagged and beaten, was probably raped, and strangled with a bootlace. Toilet-bowl cleaner which has a high percentage of acid covered her hands. Motor oil-covered her body from the waist down. Her bedding was stripped. A partially burned blanket was found and her stained comforter was in the bathtub. Her bedroom carpet had burn marks as did her satin sheets. Both the family friend and Jack spoke on the 911 call and gave statements to the police. Part of the “who did this?” issue was the fact there were a lot of people who attended the Halloween party. Even the police detective had surmised he had not worked on a case as complex as this before.

The autopsy

An autopsy conducted by the King County Medical Examiner determined Arpana had died as a result of asphyxia (suffocation) due to ligature strangulation. She also sustained blunt-force injuries in multiple areas. The medical examiner noted she had a broken tooth and bruises. I believe Arpana fought back.

The service andburial

There was a service for Arpana in Bellevue, WA on November 10, 2008. She was buried in Shaikpet, Hyderabad on a Sunday morning. Family and friends came to see Arpana one last time and to pay their respects and her memory was adorned with flowers. The pictures on display included ones of her that were taken after she won competitions. She had a very eventful life in the short time she was here. Her body was taken to the burial ground near Whisper Valley in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, and laid to rest. Rest in peace, Arpana. A couple of her close friends still carry her with them. Another close friend said, “she was one of a kind.”

A review of the 2008 murder mystery of Indian immigrant, Arpana Jinaga, in Redmond, Washington | CJ Coombs | NewsBreak Original (2)

The crime venue: Valley View Apartments as it appears today.Valley View Apartments website.

Nearly a yearlater

In August 2009, a man named Emanuel Fair was interviewed by police. He was read his rights. He was one of the three individuals whose DNA was found in Arpana’s apartment. Fair would eventually be charged with Arpana’s murder, booked in the fall of 2010, and held in a Seattle facility pending trial. This was two long years after the murder.

Before Fair was charged, they also were looking at Arpana’s neighbor, Jack. They learned from Jack’s phone records that he called Arpana at 3:00 a.m., however, he indicated he didn’t recall making the call. The day after the party, he drove up to Canada but was denied entry, partly because he didn’t have his passport. His DNA was found on a motor oil container that was in a bag with the red robe presumed to have been worn by Jinaga the night she was killed. There were no other DNA profiles found on the evidence of other people attending the party outside of three individuals. Fair said that he had spent time with Jack and even went to his apartment to listen to music. You begin to scrutinize the details of this crime in knowing that DNA can also be transferred including the fact that Fair’s DNA was found in a mixture of DNA which sometimes is proven unreliable. No charges were brought against Jack.

Around 8:00 a.m., a neighbor said he could hear some moaning and assumed she was possibly getting sick or throwing up from the effects of the party. He also heard a thud sound and thought she had fallen out of bed. He heard water running in the bathroom but assumed she was washing up.

The toilet-bowl cleaner and motor oil were used on Arpana’s body to destroy any DNA evidence. The killer or killers attempted to light the carpet on fire. Part of Arpana’s Halloween costume was found in a nearby dumpster along with red tape that contained burn marks. Black satin sheets were found burned. Interestingly, the killer had to have been going up and down the stairs discarding evidence and no witnesses apparently saw this.

The investigation

Two days after the crime, police were going through the units looking for any witnesses. Fair was staying with a female friend who had an apartment at the complex. Arpana’s whole apartment was taped off. Fair was concerned he would have a problem because there was a warrant out for him on another charge, so that night, he returned to Seattle.

Within a week after the crime, police interviewed those who attended the party and collected their DNA samples. The killer must have been a big strong person, but Arpana was also strong, so she probably fought back.

A friend of Arpana’s said they had consensual sex which would explain why his sem*n was present. When he was interviewed, he stated he could never harm anyone. Even though the rape kit came back negative, it was believed there was sexual misconduct involved with this crime.

Coats interviewed neighbor, Jack, who explained Arpana’s door had been broken into. He talked about the party and the last time he spoke with Arpana. He said he slept on his couch and thought he might have heard something. He said he tried to call her on the morning of November 1 (Saturday) probably around 10:00 a.m. to check on her but there was no response. Jack wasn’t seen as a person of interest. The police interviewed him years later in 2016. Arpana’s phone records revealed that he called her two times around 3:00 a.m. but Jack didn’t mention this. As indicated earlier, he said he drove about 100 miles to the Canadian border so he could do some exploring. Interesting. I found this odd. He didn’t have his passport and he wasn’t allowed entry, so he drove back and went to an after-Halloween party. Jack eventually retained counsel. A search warrant was issued for his apartment and vehicle.

It was also discovered that Arpana’s cell phone and digital camera were missing and maybe were pawned off.

Police reviewed photos taken at the party. Jack was considered a person of interest until a new person of interest came into play named Emmanuel Fair. Fair didn’t have the greatest upbringing and was in foster care until he ran away at age 16. He had been in trouble with the law. And you must wonder if selecting Fair as a person of interest was strictly based on his history with the law, a past warrant, and his brown skin. At age 19, he was charged with third-degree rape. His accuser was a 14-year-old girl. He submitted to an Alford plea which means he did not admit to the act and asserted innocence but admitted that sufficient evidence existed with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find him guilty.

This crime had no witnesses. Multiple interviews were conducted. Dried bleach was also found on the bathroom counter and on the mattress. Whoever the killer or killers were, a lot of effort was spent in trying to cover up any evidence. It was a waiting game to obtain the results of the DNA gathered. Scrutiny over the evidence and the investigation took two years.

When Fair was interviewed by the police, he did state he had been in Arpana’s apartment during the party including a return visit to have pizza. He had also been helping to decorate — might DNA be transferred on items during that activity? Redmond Police Department detectives obtained his cell phone records indicating he made or received 20 calls between 1:54 a.m. and 4:48 a.m. and three of those calls were made to the tenant he was staying with at the apartment complex. Interestingly, Fair said during this time frame he was asleep at his friend’s apartment. Fair also said he only used his phone once. There was another woman at the party who had three missed calls from Fair around 4:45 a.m. which he said may have been misdials during his sleep. But the woman said that there was a voicemail after the first call in which she could hear movement sounds without voices. This still could have been a misdial. I’ve had those before where the voicemail goes on and on with shuffling sounds of the caller walking.

The DNAevidence

The DNA recovered was connected to three individuals. Fair’s DNA was found on Arpana’s neck, a piece of duct tape that was used to gag her, a piece of toilet paper or paper towel found at the crime scene, and was mixed with Arpana’s blood on a robe found in the apartment building’s trash bin. Jack’s DNA was found on a discarded container of motor oil that was found in the same bag with the robe. A third man’s DNA was on a bootlace, also found in the trash, but he had an alibi. So he had an alibi, but his DNA being on the bootlace isn’t suspicious? Note that Fair’s DNA would have been on the duct tape because, again, he was using tape earlier in the evening to help with decorations.

More investigation

Coats interviewed the female friend of Fair’s. In 2008, she was 32 years old and a new tenant. She said there was nothing romantic between her and Fair. The police picked up Fair on outstanding warrants as a way to question him about the murder. Fair was questioned about the party. It was noted he had a pretty good memory. He said he attended the party, went to Arpana’s apartment, and then back to his friend’s apartment. He had made several calls and text messages around 3:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and called his friend around 4:00 a.m. He basically helped set up the party in the apartment complex where he didn’t know most of the people. His friend from the complex helped him to leave because of his warrants. It’s noteworthy that each time Fair was interviewed, his story was always the same.

Apparently, Jack met Fair on the night of the crime, but according to court records, the prosecutors didn’t feel they had enough evidence to charge Jack even though his DNA was found on the motor oil container. Since there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest Jack and Fair were accomplices, the prosecutors were barred from arguing they were both involved with the killing. That decision was upheld by the state Court of Appeals following Fair’s first trial.

A review of the 2008 murder mystery of Indian immigrant, Arpana Jinaga, in Redmond, Washington | CJ Coombs | NewsBreak Original (3)

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Two trials

Fair’s charge was first-degree murder with sexual motivation and the trial was in King County.

Before the trial, the state agreed that evidence linking the neighbor (Jack) to possibly being involved with the killing was admissible but explained that he may have participated in the crime with Fair and that evidence incriminating Jack did not mean that Fair was free from wrongdoing. The state said rather than Jack being the “other suspect,” he can be characterized as an uncharged accomplice. The state Court of Appeals upheld the court’s decision. It was petitioned for review by the state Supreme Court but was ultimately denied review. This restriction, however, allowed the defense to argue that any evidence involving Jack should be reasonable doubt as to whether Fair committed the crime.

During pretrial hearings, the State suggested that Jack might have assisted Fair in committing the murder. But Jack can’t be named an accomplice unless there is proof. Jack was referred to as an uncharged accomplice and that he may have been involved in some way. The State was prohibited from using this argument in its opening statement because there wasn’t any evidence supporting they acted together.

Jack was called as a witness and only answered certain questions. He testified he was interviewed four times by detectives (he had received immunity for two interviews but no immunity for testifying at trial). The jury heard interviews of the police with both Jack and Fair (Fair didn’t testify at trial).

There are always proposed jury instructions during the trial that are agreed upon. The instructions proposed by the State included an instruction defining “accomplice,” but the Court declined to give the instruction because there was no proof supporting an accomplice theory.

In Fair’s closing argument, there was an emphasis on evidence of another suspect in an effort to show that any evidence of Jack’s guilt could create some reasonable doubt regarding Fair’s guilt. To argue, the State reminded the jury that Jack wasn’t on trial, Fair was.

The first trial in 2017 resulted in the jury being deadlocked so a mistrial was declared. The State moved the Court for reconsideration of its decision related to the accomplice instruction in view of an impending second trial. The State argued that eliminating this instruction was unfair and voided the possibility of Jack and Fair acting together in the crime for the jurors. The Court upheld its decision and granted discretionary review by the State. Ultimately, the Court ruled,

“The State may argue that the evidence… [of Jack’s] guilt does not preclude a finding of Fair’s guilt, so long as the State does not assert that the two were accomplices. The case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”

The second trial occurred in June 2019 with a jury finding Fair, then aged 35, not guilty after he had already served nine years in jail. He was released after three hours of the verdict being read. Sadly, the Seattle Times’ title in its reporting on June 14, 2019, After nearly 11 years and two trials, killing of Redmond woman who had been ‘living her dream’ remains unsolved, says it all.

Since Fair’s arrest, he has always professed his innocence so to be acquitted brought him and his family a lot of relief. According to defense attorney Goldsmith and as reported in the Seattle Times, During trial the jury heard significant evidence that another person, Ms. Jinaga’s next door neighbor, may have murdered her on that tragic night, Goldsmith indicated that one of Arpana’s neighbors was the “likely killer” based on what was found in her apartment. Neighbor Jack was the last individual to call her before she was killed. It was reported he attempted to destroy the evidence of his calls. There was evidence on June 14, 2019, that might have exonerated Fair.

“After nine years of fighting, Fair has the freedom he deserves,” defense attorney Ben Goldsmith said. “Emanuel has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout this case and he, his family and friends are greatly relieved that justice was served by his acquittal.”

Speculation by one juror indicated since there was no day and night security on the trash dumpster outside of the apartment building, there could have been evidence tampering. Although the dumpster was searched the day Arpana’s body was discovered, it wasn’t gone through piece by piece until two days later.


While there are several podcasts out there on this murder, I’m tempted to say that “Suspect” is incredible. Journalist Matthew Shaer, co-founder of Campside Media and Wondery, along with journalist Eric Benson, created a true-crime podcast called “Suspect” which details this unsolved crime. It is excellent and well worth the listen. In fact, I would binge it. Shaer is very thoughtful in the manner in which he tells his listening audience about this story in his storyteller's voice. Their podcast is rich with interviews that cause you to reflect on all the circ*mstances involved with the investigation and what direction it could have gone. If anything, you feel the loss of Arpana and when you hear Fair speak, you feel sad he was caught up in this nightmare. His attorney fought hard for him because he believed in his innocence.


An Arpana Jinaga opened a Flickr account in August 2008 to post her pictures. There were only 8.

Because Fair had a prior record, was it a general assumption that he must have been guilty? While circ*mstantial evidence led to arrest, was it the color of his skin that attracted more focus than Jack? How weak is a person’s DNA profile when found in a mixture of DNA? Is it reliable? Some suggest not so much. Likewise, was Jack’s DNA on the motor oil container just transfer DNA? If not, why wasn’t he also charged? He had a lot of inconsistencies in his statements. He ended up moving east from Seattle. Fair is trying to move forward with his life. He was in jail for nine years before he was ultimately found not guilty. That’s a long time to reflect on your life.

There is a court record filed with the Supreme Court of Washington, Case №77180–9–1, filed on October 8, 2018, that lays out some of the details of this case prior to the second trial. This is posted online.


The Troubling Trial of Emanuel Fair.

Seattle Times: After nearly 11 years and two trials, killing of Redmond woman who had been ‘living her dream’ remains unsolved.

Seattle Times, New true-crime podcast reexamines the unsolved murder of a Redmond woman killed in 2008.

Source. The Times of India. Arpana Laid to Rest, 11/10/2008.

Source. She Hosted a Halloween Party, Then Turned Up Dead: Podcast Examines Arpana Jinaga’s Unsolved 2008 Murder — People Mag 8/17/2021.

Source. Seattle Weekly, June 22, 2019, June 22, 2019 - Second trial in killing of Redmond woman ends with not-guilty verdict.

A review of the 2008 murder mystery of Indian immigrant, Arpana Jinaga, in Redmond, Washington | CJ Coombs | NewsBreak Original (2024)
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