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California Data Architect Gets Life In Triple Slaying Of Kids, Wife’s Aided Suicide

Shankar Hangud plotted to kill his three children after he lost his job and was unable to financially provide for his family, prosecutors said.

By Dorian Geiger

A California father who confessed to killing his family and drove to a police station with his son’s body in his car will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Shankar Nagappa Hangud, 55, received three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole (as well as one two-year sentence to be served concurrently) this week in the puzzling 2019 murders of his children and the assisted suicide of his wife, prosecutors confirmed. Judge Jeffrey Penney handed down the sentence in Placer County Superior Court on Wednesday.

On Sept. 13, Hangud pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree in the murders of his three children and one count of deliberately aiding his wife in committing suicide, according to a press release issued by the district attorney's office in Placer County. 

“The sentencing of Shankar Hangud marks a painful close to an incredibly sad case,” Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire told Oxygen.com on Friday. “The murders of the Hangud family were particularly senseless and left an entire community grappling with questions that simply cannot be answered."

Shankar Hangud Ap

"Veteran prosecutors and seasoned investigators were brought to tears and frustration through the investigation and prosecution of this case,” he explained.

On Oct. 14, 2019, Hangud drove to a police station in Mount Shasta, California and confessed to the aided suicide of his 46-year-old wife, Jyothi Hangud, and their children: 20-year-old Varun Hangud, 16-year-old daughter Gauri Hangud, and 13-year-old son Nichal Hangud, over the course of several days.

The case gained nationwide attention after Varun Hungud’s body was found in his father's car at the police station. Police believe the two left the family home together and Shankar Hangud killed his son close to the Oregon border before driving to the police station the following day.

"This case shook our tight knit community," Rob Baquera, a spokesperson for the Roseville Police Department told Oxygen.com on Friday. "The impacts of this horrible incident spread across many facets from classmates, coworkers, to neighbors."

"The sentencing of Shankar Hangud will allow many to move forward with healing," he added. "The incident, though, will remain a stain on our community’s history."

Hangud, who was arrested without incident in connection to his family members’ deaths, later openly confessed to the killings during a lengthy series of police interviews.

Shankar Nagappa Hangud Pd

Prosecutors said Shankar Hangud’s life began unraveling shortly before the planned killings transpired. Hangud had worked as a data architect in California, according to his LinkedIn profile, but the loss of his job — and his family’s financial security — ultimately drove him to carry out the killings, he told prosecutors. Tax records showed Hangud was the subject of a $178,603 tax lien from the IRS before the killings, according to the Napa Valley Register.

“Mr. Hangud and his wife erased their family from this earth because of a distorted and selfish sense of desperation and manipulation,” Gire added. “Mr. Hangud will now deservedly spend the rest of his life in prison, unable to ever earn a chance at parole."

"In a powerful testament to the human spirit," he said, "the memories of the Hangud children will live through the efforts of their friends and teachers, many of whom bravely attended the sentencing and plan to celebrate one of the children’s birthday this week."

The murders, which baffled officials then and now, were described by county prosecutors this week as “too surreal to be true.”

“The deaths of these young victims touched this community very deeply, and although there are no family members left to see justice served, many in our community remember the victims from school or from their neighborhood,” Placer County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Tellman also said following Hangud’s sentencing.  

“The Hangud children had goals, hopes, and dreams of a bright future,” Gire stated. “They had life moments and significant events to look forward to. One had recently been accepted to college. They had friends and classmates and teachers who cared about them and miss them deeply.”