Family of women in cleaver attack speak out

Published: Oct. 16, 2017 at 5:41 PM EDT
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The heartbroken family of two women attacked by a man wielding a cleaver are speaking out. The attack left a young mother murdered and a grandmother hospitalized with serious injuries.

"She's a strong woman," said Canesh Rimal, the brother of Yogeswari Khadka, who died in last week's attack.

Rimal says as his sister was viciously attacked with a meat cleaver. Their mother, Tulasa Rimal, tried to intervene.

"She tried to save her, but she got struck from him," Canesh Rimal said.

Authorities say the attacker was Khadka's husband, Aita Gurung. He appeared in court last Friday on murder charges, staying silent and with his head down.

"People say he's mental or something like that, but I'm not sure," Canesh Rimal said.

Rimal says he has no idea what sparked his brother-in-law's alleged rage at a Burlington home last Thursday. It left his sister murdered and his mother hospitalized.

"She's a little bit better than before," he said of his mother.

Rimal says he and Khadka share two other siblings, and they came to the United States several years ago as Nepali refugees. He last spoke to his sister about a month ago and says losing her has been devastating.

"I don't feel good. I hope not everybody should be like me," he said.

Court documents show Gurung's alleged attack started inside the home but ended along a busy street.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people had to witness what happened that day," Burlington Police Lt. Mike Warren said.

Police say Gurung's hacking stopped as an armed bystander held him at gunpoint just as officers arrived on scene.

"Nothing could prepare the officers for what they saw when they arrived on scene there. That was a pretty gruesome, graphic crime scene," Warren said.

Authorities say Khadka's injuries were too severe to survive, but first responders were able to help Tulasa Rimal, despite multiple lacerations across her body. Police said Monday they were able to do a preliminary interview with her at the hospital, where she said she remembered what happened.

"She's provided some insight into what happened that day. We're hoping that once she makes a little bit more of a full recovery, we're able to sit down with her and get more details," Warren said.

Police say that some of the murder case's key evidence is a graphic cellphone video recorded by a witness. Gurung is currently in the custody of the Department of Mental Health, where he's set to be evaluated under a judge's order.

Burlington Police say Tulasa Rimal's condition has been upgraded to "fair." Her family was at court Monday, sorting out custody of her 8-year-old granddaughter.