Skip to main content

Love gone sour: Indian rickshaw driver kills American wife, then self

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 8:03 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The marriage soon soured
  • Report: Sharma accused Willinger of "talking to other men"
  • He died in a house explosion that he caused

(CNN) -- They met and fell head over heels at the Taj Mahal, that iconic monument to love.

She, an American tourist. He, an Indian rickshaw driver.

But theirs wasn't to be the kind of romance that Bollywood endings are made of.

Their marriage soon soured. And Bunty Sharma stabbed his wife, Erin Willinger, to death before blowing himself up in his home.

Willinger, 35, of Pennsylvania first visited the northern Indian city of Agra in September to see the Taj Mahal, the white marble mausoleum that a grief-stricken emperor had erected for his wife who died during childbirth.

There, Willinger met Sharma, a 32-year-old who made a living driving an autorickshaw, those three-wheeled green and yellow cabs.

They married in a local court, Agra's police chief Shalabh Mathur told CNN.

Police inspect the rickshaw of Bunty Sharma, after he killed his wife and blew himself up at home.
Police inspect the rickshaw of Bunty Sharma, after he killed his wife and blew himself up at home.

But their marriage soon headed into trouble and the couple started living separately over "differences" in their relationship, Mathur said.

"Both had allegations against each other," the police chief said, without elaborating.

But the Indian Express newspaper reported that Sharma accused his wife of smoking too much and "talking to other men."

The couple separated but were not legally divorced, Mathur said.

On February 20, Willinger met Sharma again -- but police weren't clear why.

Police said he drove her to a secluded spot in Agra and fatally stabbed her.

He then went home and killed himself by igniting a gas canister in his kitchen that caused his house to explode.

"We offer our condolences to her family and loved ones on their loss," said Lee McManis, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. " We are in contact with her family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, we decline further comment."

Florida man kills wife and son with crossbow, then slits throat

Did newlywed blindfold husband before pushing him off cliff?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
updated 11:26 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Think that U.S. President Barack Obama has done a back flip on Iraq and Syria? Think again.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
updated 1:22 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
updated 10:36 PM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
updated 5:28 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
updated 11:17 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
After months -- if not years -- of speculation, the tech giant's first foray into wearables has arrived. Here are our first impressions.
updated 8:41 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Steven Sotloff's family believes ISIS paid rebels to alert the group about his location in Syria.
updated 4:05 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Bali might be a popular tourist destination but there are crowd-free corners worth exploring.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Scots are preparing to vote on the future of their country. Will they decide to leave the UK?
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT