About a month ago, a retired couple was murdered in their home in Lawai, Sigatoka, in the Fiji Islands. It was reported that their bodies were found with blunt force trauma.
One of the victims was 69-year-old Sesha Reddy. He had been a resident of Milpitas from the mid-70s up until 1998, when he moved back to his home country of Fiji for his retirement.
During his time in Milpitas, he was known for helping the community in any way he could.
Every Thanksgiving, he’d donate milk and other items from the 7-11 store he owned to the Jack Emery Drive.
“He’d always place an extra order of items and pay for it all himself,” said his daughter, Rani Reddy.
Being involved in community and charity events was a value Sesha instilled in his children at an early age.
As far back as second grade, Rani headed out to the Milpitas High School campus with her father and passed out donation baskets to families. As kids, she and her brother also accompanied Reddy to volunteer at Milpitas events like the Art and Wine Festival, taking tickets for sodas.
Reddy’s kindness also extended to helping others in need of employment: “Many people that lived in the neighborhood at one point or another worked for my dad,” said Rani. “He was really good at giving everyone a chance at working. If they ever needed a job and they had an opening, he always helped out.”
Along with donating financially to various projects, Reddy was also active in the Milpitas Rotary Club and the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce.
Although he was retired and living in Fiji, he still maintained a residence in the states, in the town of Hercules, California, where he maintained his community involvement. He became President of the Rotary Club in Hercules in 2008.
And although he retired, Reddy had become an investor, partaking in the purchase of rental properties. In Fiji, he owned 110 acres of land. In California, he owned three properties.
He had also remarried in 2004. His wife, Mirdu, was found murdered with him in Fiji.
“Fiji is a very peaceful place,” said Rani. “It’s not very high in crime, even if you’re a tourist. What happened is not typical.”
Tragedy in Fiji
Since her father and stepmother’s murders, Rani has taken the past month off from work to attend to legalities and logistics. Since Fiji doesn’t allow people to travel to or from the island due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rani has remained home in California, working out funeral details while handling the details of cremating the bodies and shipping the ashes.
Earlier this month, Rani and her family watched the funeral virtually.
As far as who committed the murders, the police in Fiji currently have a suspect in custody.
On January 25, Sesha Reddy had written an email complaint to Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.
In the email, obtained by The Beat, Reddy made mention of someone named “Mr. Rajneel,” whom he described as “a senior officer from Nacocolevu Station” at the Ministry of Agriculture.
Reddy went on to write that he went into the office to pay a bill that he owed for land preparation and digger work on his property in Sigatoka.
Rajneel, who accepted Reddy’s payment, appeared at Reddy’s doorstep the next business day, saying he’d given him a receipt from the wrong book. He took Reddy’s receipt and issued him two new receipts from another booklet.
Then, Reddy wrote, Rajneel returned two days later and asked for both receipts back, leaving Reddy with no proof that he’d paid the bill.
On January 14, Reddy filed a report at the police station, citing grand theft.
“I would like your office to investigate and find out why paid receipt was taken back from me. I have reason to believe that this is normal practice at Nacocolevu Station and revenue receipts are not properly reported and the Government of Fiji is at a loss,” wrote Reddy to the Prime Minister.
According to Rani, as a result of Reddy’s report and complaint, Rajneel was let go from his position and an investigation into his misappropriation of funds was started.
In a Statement of Facts document written on February 6 by a friend of Reddy’s, it was noted that Rajneel had been seen waiting in a car in front of the victims’ home a couple times during the week of January 25.
This friend, who wishes not to be named in this article, had been a good friend of the deceased couple, and had been in touch with them by phone almost every day.
The friend wrote that Reddy stated in a phone call that Rajneel “came to visit him and sat down with him in the garage and asked me to withdraw the case against him in lieu of accepting $500 in cash.”
Reddy reportedly would not accept the bribe, nor would he withdraw the complaint. Rajneel left the property.
Reddy and his wife were found dead days later.
Although Rajneel is now in custody, Rani said that no formal arrests have yet been made. The Beat tried to confirm this with the Police Department in Fiji, but they did not respond to a request for comment.
“My dad told the department about what happened,” said Rani. “And he came for my parents. They even had a court date set. My dad wouldn’t back down.”
The last time Rani saw her father was in 2019. He usually traveled back and forth a lot between Fiji and the states, but due to COVID, stopped making trips in 2020.
About a decade ago, Reddy had had a triple bypass. He had maintained his health insurance in California and was always flying in for annual check-ups to make sure his heart and body were in healthy shape.
“Since the triple bypass, we were always checking with him, making sure he was eating right and exercising,” said Rani. “We always thought it would be a health issue that would take him. We never thought it would be something like this.”