NEPAL – Police in Nepal said Tuesday that they are searching a river where the body of Dahlia Yehia a 25-year-old teacher from Austin, Texas, was thrown after she was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.
Authorities are searching the Seti River for the body of Dahlia Yehia, who disappeared from the resort town of Pokhara in western Nepal last month, said police official Hari Bahadur Pal.
Police have arrested a local teacher, Narayan Paudel, who was hosting Yehia while she was in Pokhara to help victims of April’s devastating earthquake.
Pal said Paudel confessed to the crime and described how he hammered the victim to death and threw the body into the river. Pal said police found blood-soaked clothes and ropes they believed were used to tie Yehia’s body.
Yehia had arrived in Nepal in July and reached Pokhara on Aug. 4, staying with Paudel. She was killed three days later, Pal said.
Police said that the two had been in touch for roughly six months via couchsurfing.com, a social networking site that connects travelers with hosts who will give them a place to stay.
Couchsurfing has previously been criticized as unsafe — earlier this year, the Investigative Reporting Project in Italy found that an Italian police officer jailed for raping a 16-year-old traveler he was hosting had used the site to lure 14 other young women to his home.
According to police, Paudel told them that he killed Yehia for her iPhone and money that she had recently withdrawn from an ATM. Nepalese officials, who began investigating Yehia’s disappearance after being contacted by the American Embassy on Aug. 28, were able to track him down via the phone.
Paudel was arrested on Sept. 2 and confessed the next day, Pal said. Two days later, authorities said, he attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the jail. He is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital.
Following the April 25 earthquake, which killed nearly 9,000 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of houses in Nepal, aid groups and individuals rushed to the South Asian country to help the victims.
On a Find Dahlia Facebook page, a message bearing the news of her death urged people to post condolences online instead.
“For those who haven’t had the joy of spending time with Dahlia,” the Facebook post read, “know that she is a giver, lover and humanitarian, who devoted her life to others less fortunate both domestic and abroad.”