By Surbhi Bhatia
VANCOUVER: Ninderjit Singh, the man suspected of brutal slaying of Poonam Randhawa, a Vancouver teen, 14 years ago, has finally pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
A former Vancouver resident, Singh eluded authorities for more than 10 years before he was arrested in the US in 2011. He had been living under an alias in San Jacinto, California, along with his wife and two young children, none of whom were aware of the murder charges against him or his real name.
He was accused of murdering Randhawa during her lunch break at Sir Winston Secondary School Vancouver on January 26, 1999. He allegedly shot her once in the head as she sat in the back of a friend’s car and then dumped her body on a quiet street.
Some startling facts came to light related to Singh in the extradition documents filed by the US department of Justice after his arrest in 2011.
The documents mention that Singh was also wanted for attempted murder in a shooting outside a movie theatre in 1997.
It has also been mentioned that Singh was not alone when Randhawa was murdered. Randhawa got into the backseat of a car driven by a man named Paul Aulakh shortly before she was killed. Singh was sitting in the front seat of the car. As Aulakh drove away from the school, Singh allegedly pulled a gun and killed the young woman.
The accused killer then fled the country, asking a friend for a ride to Seattle and $200 to catch a flight to L.A. Singh told his friend that his aunt had died and he needed to be with his family.
A warrant for his arrest was issued three days later, apparently after Aulakh called police on the advice of a friend.
Aulakh left his bloody car in a garage on East 61st Avenue.
Inspector Brad Desmarais of crime branch in Vancouver Police Department (VPD) said, “On January 26th, 1999, 18-year-old Vancouver resident and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School student Poonam Randhawa was found murdered in a lane near Granville Street and West 47th Avenue in Vancouver. VPD Homicide investigators began an investigation to discover who had committed this senseless crime.”
On January 29, 1999, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ninderjit Singh for the first degree murder of Poonam Randhawa.
The VPD investigation determined that within hours of the murder, Ninderjit Singh had boarded a plane in Seattle, Washington, bound for Los Angeles, California, where he had family connections on his mother’s side. Singh had previously lived in California in 1998 and worked at an uncle’s gas station.
By the year 2000, investigators believed that Ninderjit Singh was living in an apartment in San Jose, California. Surveillance was conducted, but it is believed Singh became aware of the police presence and fled before he could be arrested.
Ninderjit Singh was featured on the TV show America’s Most Wanted and was the focus of numerous media appeals.
On Friday, August 19th, 2011, investigators located Ninderjit Singh at work in Irvine, California, but he had altered his appearance so much that investigators needed to be able to confirm his identity.