A Sri Lankan man, identified as Jude Wijesinghe, has been charged with murder for fatally stabbing a 29-year-old Bhutanese woman, Shewang Chodan, in a storage room behind the kitchen at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge on the grounds of Canberra National Zoo.
Around 12:50 p.m. on Monday (11), emergency services responded to a distress call reporting a loud scream. Upon arrival, they discovered Chodan dead in a storage room near the zoo’s commercial kitchen. Jude Wijesinghe, a 29-year-old chef, was found injured at the scene and was subsequently arrested by the police. Both Wijesinghe and Chodan were employees of Canberra National Zoo.
The Australian Capital Police Service’s Criminal Investigation Division Detective Unit stated that a post-mortem examination would confirm the cause of death, but initial findings indicate she was stabbed to death. The murder weapon, a knife, was found at the scene. Jude Wijesinghe faced murder charges during a bedside trial at Canberra Hospital and has pleaded not guilty.
Jude Wijesinghe had worked as a chef across Australia since immigrating from Sri Lanka. The Bhutanese embassy confirmed Shewang Chodan’s death. The police clarified that they do not know of any relationship between the accused and the victim outside of work.
The Bhutanese consular section issued a statement requesting privacy for the victim’s family during this sad time. Canberra National Zoo is temporarily closed, and the Jamala Wildlife Lodge, the site of the incident, will remain closed until 30th of December.