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Monday, March 11, 2024

The Pallavi Dhawan Double Murder-Suicide Case

     Sumeet and Pallavi Dhawan, before becoming naturalized U.S. citizens were married by arrangement in their native home country, India. In 2014 the couple and their 10-year-old son Arnav resided in Frisco, a suburban community north of Dallas, Texas. A computer programmer, Sumeet spent a lot of his time away from home. Mrs. Dhawan had worked in the computer field as well but quit her job to care full time for their special-needs son.

     Arnav, a fifth grade student at Isbell Elementary School was born with a brain cyst and microcephaly, a condition characterized by a smaller than normal head. Pallavi often found herself alone in the house caring for the boy during her husband's extended absences. She found herself coping with mental problems and a marriage that was falling apart.

     On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Sumeet, while on a three-week business trip received an email from Arnav's school informing him the boy had been absent from class for several days. At 4:30 PM that afternoon, as he was about to arrive home, Sumeet called Pallavi who said she was just leaving the house to pick up Arnav at his after-school tutoring center.

     At 6:30 PM that evening, when Pallavi and the boy had yet to arrive home from the school, Sumeet, concerned about their welfare called the police.

     While police officers were questioning Mr. Dhawan, Pallavi returned home without the boy. An officer asked her about Arnav. Where was he? Instead of answering the officer, Pallavi asked if she could speak to her husband privately. The officers backed away.

     Sumeet became visibly upset when Pallavi, referring to their son, said: "He is no more." The distraught father informed the officers that Arnav was in the locked bathroom.

     Inside the dry bathtub officers found the dead boy wrapped to his neck in a cloth. His body was surrounded by several empty plastic bags.

     The day after the discovery of the dead child the Collin County medical examiner, without issuing a statement regarding the specific cause of death, ruled the case a homicide. The cause of death was withheld pending the results of toxicological tests. According to the forensic pathologist the boy had been dead for two days.

     On Thursday, January 30, 2014, police officers booked Pallavi Dhawan into the Frisco City Jail on the charge of capital murder. Before officers had entered the bathroom to check on the boy one of them asked Pallavi if she had killed her son. She responded by nodding her head in the affirmative. When asked if the body was in the bathroom she also nodded her head yes.

     On Friday, January 31, 2014, just after midnight, Pallavi's attorney David Finn posted her $50,000 bail. Later that day in speaking to reporters the Dallas based defense attorney insisted that his client, when she nodded her head in the affirmative, had responded to the question regarding her son's whereabouts, not to the question about whether she had killed him. The police simply misunderstood and misinterpreted what they saw.

     Pointing out that the boy's body showed no signs of physical trauma and that his lungs did not contain water, defense attorney Finn announced that he would ask Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the Fort Worth based chief medical examiner of Tarrant County to conduct his own postmortem inquiry.

     Attorney Finn said that his client had doted on her son, a happy fun-loving kid. He also claimed that Sumeet Dhawan did not believe his wife had killed their son and that he stood by her. A reporter asked the attorney why the mother didn't notify the authorities immediately after her son's death. "That's the million-dollar question," Mr. Finn replied. Pallavi, he speculated, was probably in a state of shock after Arnav's death. She may have been waiting for her husband to come home.

     In August 2014 Pallavi and Sumeet Dhawan testified before a Collin County Grand Jury looking into the death of their son. In January 2014 the couple petitioned the authorities to return their car, fax machine and passports, items seized pursuant to the investigation of Arnav's death. The Dhawans had been forced to rent a car and needed their passports to travel back to India.

     On September 3, 2014 police officers arrived at the Dhawan residence at three in the afternoon in response to a 911 call regarding a body floating in the home swimming pool. Inside the house, lying on a bed, searchers discovered a man's body. The dead adults were presumed to be Pallavi and Sumeet Dhawan.

     The medical examiner, on September 6, 2014, confirmed the identities of the deceased couple. Sumeet had suffered blunt force trauma to his head. One of his hands had been fractured, probably as he raised that hand in defense.

     In October 2014 a spokesperson for the Collin County Medical Examiner's Office announced that Pallavi Dhawan had killed herself. She had drowned under the influence of the common antihistamine diphenhydramine. Sumeet Dhawan, according to the medical examiner's office, had been murdered by his wife. He had died from a combination of blunt force head injures and a toxic dose of several over-the-counter medications.


  1. I've known Pallavi since before Arnav was born. She lived her life around Arnav's special needs. She never complained about the challenges or wished for anything different. I just don't believe she could have killed her only son. It's just not plausible.

    Given the circumstances, police did basically the right thing. I'm sure Pallavi will be acquitted, but this is going to ruin her life and dog the family indefinitely.

  2. How do you know she had mental issues? How do you know there were problems in the marriage? Were you close to them Jim Fisher?

  3. in another article , it states that Arnav was unresponsive by morning , if so why did she not get help right then & there. did she actually find him dead/cold ??..in either case , ems must be called to revive/ help him or determine if he is actually deceased..one cannot decide for themselves . authorities must be called in..also article states that he was absent from school for several days & police determine that he had been dead 2 days prior to them being called . could he have become ill & pallavi just let him die? so many unanswered questions. also , it was stated early on by sumeet that his wife had mental problems & that they had marital problems.. after that it was not mentioned again. & it seems she was an educated woman , understood english, worked at nasa & was citizen so why did she not know the basics of reporting a death?i sure hope she did not have a hand in this childs death. the husband is standing by her , so maybe she did not.unless she is not telling him whole story

  4. If she found the child cold and unresponsive how could she be sure he was dead c,any mother would call an ambulance.Why didnt she inform her husband or any close friend the instant she found him dead? Where had she gone off after his death, didnt she have a phone to inform anyone close?Why did she put him in a bathtub? In Hinduism the body is respected not dumped into a bathtub and any educated person of 38 cannot be expected to do such a thing. She lied to her husband that she is going to pick up her son, didnt tell him he was dead? Many questions....

  5. ive never known anyone to keep important medical records in their car. that is very strange.....mary

  6. The “race” card? Please, that’s so 1990’s. Ladies & gentleman, I present to you the “culture card”. I’m an Indian man born and raised in the US for 35 plus years, and I am telling you right now that when a woman of Indian descent who used to work for NASA (of all places) claims that she shook her head from side to side to indicate that she meant “no” when the police asked her if she killed her son, its complete B.S. from her. While there is a rally of Indian people supporting her, there is a rally of Indian people on the other side telling her to stop utilizing Indian customs to get her out of this mess. I don’t think she is guilty of killing her son, but I do believe she is guilty of handling this situation so stupidly that has gotten her all of this unnecessary and unwanted publicity, she could’ve been mourning her son instead. There are two things any and all immigrants know once they come to this country. 1) Red means stop, green means go, & 2) If a police officer asks you if you killed someone, and you didn’t, simply say one word - “no”.

    1. i would like to see Pallavi & Sumeet answer some very basic questions:
      1.. Pallavi, are you trained in CPR?
      2. Pallavi, did you atttempt at Any time to call your husband?
      3.Sumeet did your wife try to calll you at anytime during those days you were gone.? because you had stated that "she may have called, i dont know i am hard to reach ..." so which is it?
      4.final question..Pallavi, when the police asked you if you killed your son ..Why did you speak up?
      & say emphatically NO , i did NOT kill my son! make a fuss do not go with them . instead you shook your head ,how you shook it i dont know, as that is under debate..in my opinion, i allways thought the indian head bobble looked like a no.

  7. I knew Pallavi and Sumeet from before thay had Arnav, and I knew Arnav from birth. They were frequent guests at my house in Madison, WI. Pallavi would always bring her curry filled fluff pastry because she knew I was crazy about them. One time we had them over for Thanksgiving and I filled up on the curry filled pastries and couldn't eat turkey. Arnav was a troubled little child, he had a mean streak against my dog, but we made sure to keep them separated, he was very much a special needs kid. Pallavi took wonderful care of him, dropped her career for him, and Sumeet made up for it. They were wonderful people, traditional Indian people. I have even had Pallavi's father visit my house, such a wonderful man. What happened here is such an incredible tragedy, and I have really big problems with the murder-suicide theory. Arnav died of natural causes, Sumeet was on a business trip, Pallavi did the best she could to follow tradition and let the father see the child before it was reported. Also, we should all know that a traditional Indian nodding means no, yes is a back and forth infinity movement of the head. What an incredible tragedy this was. I miss them all.