Warrant: Cary man planned machete attack on his ex-girlfriend

Neel Salil Mehta
Neel Salil Mehta CCBI

A 20-year-old man charged with hacking his ex-girlfriend with a machete told investigators he planned the attack in advance and then used Lyft, the ride-sharing application, to arrange a ride to her neighborhood where he attacked her after she got off a school bus, according to a search warrant application made public Thursday.

Police charged Neel Salil Mehta of Cary with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury on the day of the attack, Jan. 12.

According to the search warrant, witnesses told police that Mehta was trying to behead his ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Priyanka Kumari, in front of a home on Abruzzo Lane. Apex investigator Josh MacMonagle wrote in the warrant application that the attack “lasted for several minutes during which he repeatedly struck her with a machete and attempted to incise her neck with the blade using a sawing motion.”

One of the witnesses used a cellphone to videotape the attack, according to the search warrant.

Emergency workers transported Kumari to WakeMed, where she was treated for wounds to her face, neck and hands. A Wake prosecutor reported at the time that Kumari underwent surgery and was likely to need more.

Mehta was treated for minor injuries he apparently got during the attack, police reported.

The Apex Police Department released five calls to 911 dispatchers from people who pleaded with dispatchers to send help while the man stood over the woman on a sidewalk in the Bella Casa subdivision.

[911 call: “He’s on top of her and he’s attacking her!"]

[911 call: "He’s going to kill her! My God!"]

[911 call: “Everyone’s stopping, the cars are stopping and he won’t stop"]

Mehta was still striking Kumari with the machete when police arrived, but he dropped the weapon when the officers approached him, according to the search warrant.

Mehta confessed to the assault while being questioned by police. He told investigators that he had previously been in a dating relationship with Kumari that began about 18 months earlier. The relationship had been over for six months, and he was upset that she no longer communicated with him, “despite his many attempts,” MacMonagle wrote in the search warrant.

MacMonagle used the warrant to search Mehta’s cellphone for evidence of transportation requests using Lyft. The officer wanted to review routes the Lyft driver may have taken to pick up Mehta and take him to the neighborhood where Kumari was attacked. The detective also wanted to identify and interview the Lyft driver who drove Mehta to the Bella Casa subdivision, according to the warrant.

Mehta remains in the Wake County jail in lieu of a $2 million bail, a jail spokesman reported.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald