When the Frisco Police Department discovered the body of 10-year-old Arnav Dhawan in his Frisco home, they said, he was lying in a dry bathtub with a cloth wrapped around him, surrounded by plastic bags. His mother, Pallavi Dhawan, had arranged him that way, and police claimed in a press conference shortly afterward that she nodded "yes" when they asked if she killed him.
But the case quickly seemed to fall apart.
Her husband vouched for her innocence, and the coroner more recently determined that Arnav most likely died of natural causes.
Yesterday Pallavi Dhawan sent police a sworn affidavit describing the last day of Arnav's life, his poor health and the cultural traditions that she was following in arranging his body after he died.
Shortly after Arnav was born, Pallavi writes, his health problems became apparent. First he was diagnosed with jaundice, then, a few days later, he suffered a urinary tract infection. At 3 months old, doctors noticed "an usual head circumference." After more checkups, he was ultimately diagnosed with microcephaly -- basically, an abnormally small head. There's no cure and people with the condition are expected to live shorter lives, though the prognosis can vary widely from patient to patient.
The Dhawans moved back to India when he was 4, but returned to the States in 2012, settling in Frisco for the schools and medical care.
The last day that Pallavi Dhawan spent with her son "was just another normal day for Arnav," she writes, starting in school. That evening, they had dinner at Papa Lopez, went shopping at Toys R Us and then got a pizza from Taco Bell on the way home. She gave him a sweater to sleep in, read to him before bed and tucked him in. He had trouble falling asleep, she writes, so she slept in the room with him.
The next morning, he wouldn't wake up. Dhawan describes the horrific scene in detail: His body was cold and stiff. She describes being in denial and putting him in a bath to wake him up, but he just slumped down.
"After realizing that he was gone, I went in a state of shock and wanted only to know who would perform his last rites," the affidavit says. She describes dressing him and arranging his body on ice according to traditional Hindu custom, and then waiting for her husband, Sumeet, to come home from his business trip in India.
What happened after Sumeet got home is unclear in the affidavit. Pallavi says in the document that her husband "has a weak heart and I knew he would not be able to receive news of his son's demise well," so she asked him to sit down. While he waited, "I left for awhile," she writes.
She returned, apparently after locking the door to the room where Arnav's body was, to find police cars in front of the house. She broke the news to her husband in private, and then he called the police in. They asked if Arnav was in the locked room, and when she said yes, they broke the door down.
Afterward, "I was immediately separated from my husband, arrested, handcuffed, taken out to the back seat of the police car and they read me my rights," the affidavit says.
She explains the rituals of burying the dead in Hindu culture and concludes: "I loved Arnav with all of my heart and would never hut him in anyway, and I miss him very much."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The affidavit comes shortly after the Dhawan's attorney David Finn went to court to force the Frisco police to return the family car they had impounded in the investigation. The police said they would only give it back if the Dhawan's promised not to sue, as we reported.
Asked about the case last week, Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said he couldn't comment too much but defended the police work against Finn's complaints."I would expect no less from an attorney to try this in the press," he told Unfair Park at the time. The full affidavit is below: