By Joshua Liang and Michelle Lagos
A man is facing several felony charges after allegedly brutally stabbing and murdering a woman working in a local massage parlor in Woodland.
On August 21, 2018, surveillance cameras caught the defendant, Rohail Sarwar, age 28, leaving the plaza where the massage parlor was located at 5:24 pm, with a “red substance” on his hands.
The prosecution began their opening statement by reiterating the events that occurred that evening. A man wearing a red hat was seen buying a “unique” knife, with a blue and silver handle, from a liquor store near the massage parlor. At 5:24 pm that man, suspected to be Mr. Sarwar, was seen walking out of the parlor with a red substance covering his hands.
Mr. Sarwar had visited that massage parlor on multiple occasions. On June 22, 2018, he urinated on a massage table, earning him the pseudonym the “pee guy.” This prompted the manager to send his photo to the local authorities. The manager also claimed that between July to Aug of 2018 Mr. Sarwar had then reportedly attempted to sexually assault her on multiple occasions while she was giving him a massage.
Having known Mr. Sarwar from previous events, when the victim called the manager to inform her that the “pee guy” was in the parlor on Aug. 21, the manager told the victim not to help him.
At 5:43 pm a customer discovered the victim’s body lying on the floor. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene. It was later discovered that she suffered 16 stab wounds to the head, neck, back, chest, stomach, and face areas.
Through the surveillance video, officers were able to track down Mr. Sarwar, who lived approximately 700 feet from the scene. They obtained a warrant on Aug. 23, 2018, which led them to discover the clothing he had used that evening covered in blood, which tested positive for both the defendant and the victim.
While being interviewed by the police, Mr. Sarwar denied ever being at the massage parlor or buying a knife from the liquor store. His story suffered a constantly changing narrative throughout his interview and his comments shift from the type of injuries the victim endured to comments about his boss before the police could collect any information.
Diving deeper into the defendant’s problematic sexual history, a woman with whom Mr. Sarwar had been enamored took the stand. Mr. Sarwar’s wife, in fact, had not been anywhere near the court hearing.
The woman in question had been the wife of the defendant’s boss.
During the hearing, the court heard that the two had first met when Sarwar had arrived at the woman’s landscaping business looking for work sometime in September 2017. Although its roots remain unclear, the woman’s relationship with Mr. Sarwar – which until the point had remained benign – escalated into a self-processed “romantic” nature.
The affair contained no less than ten sexual encounters, all of which were reportedly consensual between the woman and the defendant until the day of August 20,- the day before the defendant allegedly committed the Woodland murder. While she was preparing for lunch with Mr. Sarwar, the woman reported that he had been visibly upset with her after finding out about her sexual liaisons with her husband. After picking up Mr. Sarwar in her car, she then began to suffer a string of verbal assaults, which began to ratchet up in intensity as the car journey continued. When asked by the prosecuting attorney if Mr. Sarwar had exhibited similar outbursts previously, the woman replied with a negative.
By this time, the woman reported that Mr. Sarwar had begun to physically as well as verbally assault her, leaving scratches alongside her face and arms. “I can buy tons of women just like you.” One of Mr. Sarwar’s hands brushed up against the wheel threatening to veer the car off the lane. It is at this point that she began crying. “I was scared. That he was screaming and was selfish with himself. I told him all men were jerks.” The defendant’s attorney suggested this sounded more akin to anger than fear.
By this time Mr. Sarwar ordered the woman to stop the car so he could “talk” to her. After several repeated attempts, his mistress agreed to stop at a nearby hotel. After paying the allotted $80 for the night’s stay, the two settled into a room, at which point the defendant reportedly coaxed the victim behind sheets, before promptly resuming his past behavior more vigorously, tearing at the victim’s clothes. He threatened to break her legs if she didn’t give him what he wanted, and the defendant’s attorney proceeded to ask if the sex was violent.
“Not violent. Rougher. He said he wanted to treat me the way my husband treated me.”
After finishing, and an unsuccessful attempt to force a shower under the threat of death, the woman and Mr. Sarwar left the hotel and proceeded to drive back to Woodland. After an undisclosed time into the drive, the defendant began laughing and declared the incident to be a joke.
The woman did not disclose the incident to anybody but a close friend. It would only be when she heard of Mr. Sarwar’s arrest that she recounted the incident to investigators.
The trial will resume Monday, July 22, 2019, at 8:30 AM at Woodland courthouse.