A pregnant woman’s body was washed up on a beach days after she disappeared, with a coroner saying “she must have felt lonely”.
Sonam Shelar, 26, was newly married and five months pregnant when she disappeared from her home in Wellington in November 2018.
She met her husband Sagar the year before at a popular Indian match-making site, and the two soon married and moved to New Zealand, where Sonam became pregnant.
The couple were unhappy in their rented house, and Sagar was looking for a new home because the live-in landlord wanted them out before the baby arrived.
A coroner’s report described the marriage as “solemn” without any of the “usual newlywed happiness,” the New Zealand Herald reports.
One roommate described Sonam as someone who rarely leaves the house and spends most of her time alone on her phone. She also started experiencing intense morning sickness during the first trimester, but otherwise the pregnancy went well.
On November 16 she went for an ultrasound in which she began to believe she had a daughter, which her husband found herself visibly upset and tearful for wanting a boy.
That night the couple fought and Sonam said she wanted to return to India.
The next morning, Sagar left for work and saw that his wife was not looking up from her phone when he said goodbye.
Later he tried to call her but was concerned when she didn’t answer and left work to check on her but found the house empty. Shortly afterwards, he reported his wife as missing to the police.
The coroner’s report stated that Sagar had volunteered to assist the police and there was “no evidence” that he was involved in her disappearance or death.
Their investigation revealed CCTV footage of Sonam boarding a bus and heading to Island Bay, a beach about 40 minutes from their home.
Several witnesses say they saw her crying as she walked to the water, but she refused help when they asked her what was going on.
Days later, on November 21, Sonam’s body was discovered by a group of teenage surfers on the shoreline, a few miles from Island Bay.
The coroner ruled that Sonam had entered the water and drowned in what could be a suicide, although it could not be determined with certainty.
“These injuries are equivalent to drowning in a turbulent sea,” said coroner Tracey Fitzgibbon.
“Based on the available evidence, I am not convinced that Sonam Shelar’s actions were self-caused and amount to suicide.”
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