Exclusive: Crime writer Kathy Reichs helped snare university killer after similarities to case in her book

By Paul O’Hare  –  A TOP crime writer and forensics expert helped Scots cops nail a young mum’s vicious killer, the Record can reveal.  Monster Roshan Dantis read Kathy Reichs novel Devil Bones for inspiration before he strangled Khusbu Shah, the wife of his best friend, and hacked off her head and hands with a meat cleaver.  He was so obsessed with the book, which he’d borrowed from a library, that he renewed the ticket on it just hours after the gruesome killing.

And after Dantis was caged for at least 24 years yesterday, police revealed that American Reichs had helped them understand the killer’s twisted mind.

A source said: “The murder of Mrs Shah had such similarities to a murder detailed in Dr Reichs’s novel that we asked for her help.

“We wanted to get inside the mind of someone capable of such acts, and she was happy to help us with that.”

Student Dantis, 30, murdered 23-year-old Khusbu in her Glasgow home before trying to extort £120,000 from her husband, Nagendra, by pretending she had been kidnapped.

Khusbu left a four-year-old son, Nikhil. And after watching a judge cage Dantis for life, Nagendra said: “Khusbu was my beautiful wife and Nikhil’s perfect mum. She was brutally killed by a ruthless, evil man.

“Nikhil has had to cremate his 23-year-old mum.”

Indian Dantis, who moved to Scotland in 2008, pretended to be Nagendra’s friend as they studied for business degrees at Strathclyde University.

But the killer, who didn’t earn much money as a part-time steward at Celtic Park, was consumed with jealousy because Nepalese-born Nagendra and his wife were better off than he was.

He dreamed up a warped plan to murder Khusbu, then pretend she had been kidnapped, to get cash from her husband.

Police believe the plot may also have given Dantis a chance to act out a sick fantasy of violence.

Detective Superintendent Mike Orr said: “It is unclear exactly what his motive was. But one theory is that is it was a fantasy-type killing, perhaps influenced by Devil Bones.”

Just weeks before the murder on June 1 last year, Dantis went to a local library and took out Devil Bones, which describes a series of decapitations.

He also borrowed a book on murders, forensics and detective work.

In one of the ritual murders in Devil Bones, the killer cuts off the victim’s head and disposes of it in a carrier bag while dumping the body elsewhere.

And Dantis did exactly the same with Khusbu after he throttled the life out of her at her flat in Dennistoun in Glasgow’s east end.

Khusbu, who was alone in the flat after taking little Nikhil to nursery, opened the door to her killer. She knew Dantis well, and had even made dinner for him at the flat before.

She went to get Dantis a cup of tea, but he attacked her before she could make it.

Khusbu was just 5ft 1in and 18-stone Dant is was twice her weight. She did not stand a chance against him.

Dantis gagged Khusbu and bound her hand and foot before killing her and putting her body in the bath. He then used the cleaver to cut off her head and hands .

He left the flat carrying two bags – a large blue holdall containing Khusbu’s body and a carrier bag with her head and hands inside.

Dantis hid the holdall in bushes yards from the flat in Coventry Drive. He dumped the head and hands, along with the bloodied cleaver and jumper he had been wearing, on a railway embankment.

Just hours after the murder, Dantis put his blackmail plot into act ion by sending Nagendra a fake text from Khusbu’s “kidnappers”.

Prosecutor Dorothy Bain QC told the trial at the High Court in Glasgow: “In this demand, it is clear that Roshan Dantis sought to obtain money from Mr Shah for the return of his wife. This, cruelly, at a stage where it is clear that the young woman is dead.”

Nagendra wept as he told the court: “I was scared, terrified. I knew my wife would not joke like that.”

At the same time as trying to blackmail Nagendra, callous Dantis pretended to console him.

But police soon saw through his play-acting and identified him as their prime suspect. After Khusbu’s remains were found, DNA tests revealed a wealth of evidence against him.

Dantis’s DNA was found on the handle of the cleaver and the handles and zip of the holdall. A forensics expert told his trial that the odds of the DNA coming from anyone other than the accused or a close relative were a billion to one.

Again, but this time unwittingly, Dantis had followed the plot of Devil Bones .

After solving the case in the book, Dr Reichs’s heroine, forensics expert Dr Temperance Brennan, says of the killer: “For a guy who prided himself on covering all angles, he sure hadn’t worked out an exit strategy.

“He didn’t want the body found, but he had no idea what to do with it.”

Dantis put on another act in the witness box. He wept as he pleaded his innocence, and cooked up a cock and bull story in a bid to explain away the forensic evidence.

The killer claimed he had been abducted in his flat by a scar-faced gunman, who ordered him to go to the flat, clean up the scene and carry away the holdall.

He insisted he had not known had not known that the bag contained the mutilated body of his best friend’s wife.

Dantis’s defence counsel, Donald Findlay QC, told the jury: “He is not the fanged, blood-dripping, horned monster that the Crown claim.

“He is a Christian church-goer who came to Scotland to better himself. He is a man with a bright future.”

But Ms Bain said that, because of Dantis’s crime, “a four-year-old boy will go through his life without the love and devotion of his mother”.

She added: “She was decapitated and her hands were severed. They were dumped as if they were nothing more than pieces of waste.

“Although the accused presents the image of normality, intelligence, sophistication and achievement, in truth he is a monster…

“A monster capable of the grossest betrayal of a friend’s trust and a level of premeditated violence and cruelty that is beyond understanding.”

The jury took less than two hours to find Dantis guilty of murder and attempted extortion.

Judge Lord Pentland ordered him to serve at least 24 years before he can apply for parole and said he should be deported when he is finally released.

He told the killer: “Khusbu Shah was a vibrant and loving young wife and mother whose husband was one of your closest friends.”

Lord Pentland added that Dantis had carried out his plan with “chilling composure” and branded him “a vicious and cold-blooded murderer”.

Dantis bowed his head as he was led to the cells. Nagendra and his family watched the guards take him away.

Afterwards, the family said in a statement: “Khusbu was always cheerful, caring, friendly and helpful. We miss everything about her and we always will.

“Roshan Dantis deserves a life sentence for his heinous crime, and our family is satisf ied that he has been brought to justice.”

FEW crime writers know their subject as well as Dr Kathy Reichs .

For as well as being a g lobal best-selling writer, the 59-year-old is recognised as one of the world’s leading forensic analysts.

She has identified victims of World War II , sifted the ashes of Ground Zero after 9/11, and testified at the UN tribunal which followed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Born in Chicago in 1950, Dr Reichs is a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina and a director of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists.

She also works for medical examiners in North Carolina and the Canadian state of Quebec.

She has written 12 novels, which have been translated into more than 30 languages. Devil Bones, her 11th book, was published in 2008.

Dr Reichs admits that the life of the heroine of her books, forensic expert Dr Temperance Brennan, closely mirrors her own. She said of her first novel, Deja Dead: “Everything I describe in the book, I actually did.”

She has also insisted that she is “fastidiously conscientious about getting the science right” in her books.

Dr Reichs also works as a producer on the TV series Bones, built around the character of Temperance Brennan.

The show made its debut in 2005 and is screened on Sky TV in the UK.

Dr Reichs has said that she agreed to work on the show “to keep the science honest”.

And she continues to work as a scientist as well as a writer, producing two books and a series of acclaimed academic papers.

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