Suspected dentist killer’s nickname
FRIENDS called him "Harsh".
But to dentist Preethi Reddy's friends, her ex-boyfriend turned suspected killer Harshwardhan Narde, 34, wasn't someone they were ever comfortable referring to by nickname.
Several people close to Dr Reddy, 32, told news.com.au the pair had a tumultuous, long-distance relationship for five years before she called it off in early 2018. But according to one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Narde was obsessive, and Dr Reddy might have met with him in the final hours of her life because she felt sorry for him or to tell him to leave her alone.
One source reportedly told the Daily Mail that Dr Reddy told friends she planned to move to Melbourne with and marry her new boyfriend, which Narde - who was also a dentist - allegedly took umbrage to.
It's understood they both attended a dental convention in St Leonards on Saturday and stayed at the Swissotel Hotel, a luxury site on Market St where other convention attendees also stayed, before Dr Reddy met her tragic end.
Police reportedly believe Narde travelled the 400km from Tamworth to Sydney for the continuing education course with the sole purpose of seeing his ex-girlfriend.
Dr Reddy, from Penrith in the city's west, was reported missing by her family on Sunday night after she failed to arrive home. On Tuesday, her remains were found in a suitcase inside her car in a laneway at Kingsgate in Sydney's eastern suburbs just before 9.30pm. She had been stabbed numerous times.
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Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate revealed officers grilled Narde while Dr Reddy was still the subject of a missing person's inquiry after the pair spent Saturday night together.
In a shocking twist, Narde died on Monday night - a day after Dr Reddy was reported missing - in a head-on collision with a truck near Tamworth in what police believe was a deliberate act. He was living in Tamworth, in country NSW, at the time of his death.
A NSW Police spokeswoman told news.com.au authorities were not looking for any other suspects in relation to Dr Reddy's murder.
Dr Reddy's family today revealed she was "living her best life" with a new boyfriend, who she recently spoke of moving to Melbourne with and marrying, before the "horrific tragedy".
Narde, on the other hand, was reportedly under pressure from his family in India who were trying to arrange a marriage for him, according to a friend who spoke to the ABC.
His workplace, Oasis Smiles Dental Clinic in Tamworth, was closed for business on Tuesday, as noted in a sign on the door that described him as "beloved".
"We will miss him beyond words," it read.
"He touched many people's lives and we will always remember him with his big cheeky smile.
"We have been inundated with love and support in which we couldn't be more grateful at this time."
Narde graduated in dentistry from Bangalore, India in 2009 before receiving his Australian Dental Council qualification in 2013. He had previously owned his own dental practice.
SUSPECTED KILLER 'WAS QUIET'
A COLLEAGUE of Dr Reddy and Narde's, who attended the conference, said he last saw the pair chatting animatedly in the hotel lobby following the event. News.com.au understands several of the conference attendees were booked into the same hotel for the event.
"They looked happy and stayed back to chat after the conference ended at 7pm," he said.
"I knew they were in a long-term relationship, many of us did.
"The bizarre thing I noticed that night was that he took down his Facebook shortly after the conference. It made me wonder why."
Hurstville Dental & Physio Centre manager Dave Vagadia told news.com.au that Dr Reddy worked at the surgery as a dentist for about five months until March 2018.
"I saw that she was missing from her sister's post on Facebook and was in pure shock when I later saw on the news about what had happened," he said.
"(My reaction was) pure shock.
"I just thought, 'Oh my God, how come?'
"She was a strong girl who loved dentistry. She was always cheerful, happy and a positive person. She was hardworking."
According to Mr Vagadia, Dr Reddy used to frequently talk about Narde and his skills as a dentist while she was working.
"The last time I saw her was at a conference in Sydney in March last year, and she was there with (Narde)," Mr Vagadia said.
"He was quiet."
Dr Reddy left the surgery "for a better opportunity" and was employed by the Glenbrook Dental Surgery in the lower Blue Mountains as a general dentist at the time of her death.
Glenbrook Dental Surgery responded to the tragic news in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning: "Glenbrook Dental Surgery staff are in mourning to hear the sad news about Preethi Reddy." The centre has since closed temporarily.
"Due to a tragedy concerning our beloved colleague the surgery will be closed during the time being," the surgery's voicemail message said on Wednesday.
"We appreciate your understanding during this tough, difficult time. "
An online professional profile for Dr Reddy described her as being known as "a highly professional yet friendly and approachable dentist who is exceptionally good with nervous patients".
"If you feel anxious about dental visits you will find Dr Reddy will go out of her way to help you relax so your dental visit is much more pleasant."
News.com.au understands Dr Reddy was raised in Australia but studied dentistry in India.
Supt Dengate said Strike Force Carlwood officers investigating the case were unsure where and when Dr Reddy was murdered but were working on the probability she was killed at the hotel.
"We are still working on the timeline of events, and that's why we need the public to come forward with any information they have," Supt Dengate said.
Investigators said they were keen to speak to anybody who saw Dr Reddy over the weekend - when she was seen driving her grey VW Golf, registration DFP 78P.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Carlwood investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.
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