Mill Creek man charged with slaying wife claims he was ‘sparing her’

Amid financial troubles, Vijayanarayana Dharman, 36, did not know if he was going to hurt himself or his spouse. Then he “lost his mind,” he told detectives.

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.

MILL CREEK — A former Amazon software engineer stabbed and killed his wife to spare her “the humiliation” amid stresses about his large credit card debt, prosecutors alleged in charges filed Thursday.

Vijayanarayana Dharman, 36, was arrested May 25 after he allegedly told police that he had killed his wife in their Mill Creek home in the 13600 block of 41st Avenue SE.

Dharman faces first-degree murder charges in his wife’s death. On Friday, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent maintained the $1 million bail set after Dharman was arrested.

The slain woman had not been publicly identified as of Friday.

After getting married in India, Dharman and his wife moved to Mill Creek in 2021, despite the defendant secretly wanting to go back to their home country, he reportedly told police.

In February 2022, however, Dharman reportedly became “disenchanted” with his work and home lives and stopped reporting for his job at Amazon, where he worked as a software engineer. The defendant was fired in March of that year and had been unemploye since, according to the charging papers. Dharman did not tell his wife he hadn’t been working until the day before she died.

During his unemployment, Dharman piled up about $50,000 in credit card debt, according to a detective’s report. The defendant cashed out his 401(k) retirement funds and sold stocks, since he was the main source of household income.

For at least six months prior to the slaying, the husband had kept several weapons, including a hatchet and a few knives, under the bed in their home, according to police. He reportedly told detectives he put them there as an “escape.”

On the week of May 20, a declined DoorDash order from the family’s maxed-out credit card made Dharman’s wife suspicious of her husband’s debt and she ultimately found out about his unemployment, the charges say. The defendant reportedly assured his wife they were just behind on a couple payments and he would take care of it.

Around 10 a.m. May 25, the couple had a conversation in bed about moving back to India with their two young children to begin a new life. Dharman kept an insulation knife under his thighs, unsure if he was going to hurt himself or his spouse, according to the charges.

After their kids had left for school, the woman returned to the bedroom and Dharman reportedly tried to move the knife under a pillow. His wife noticed he was hiding something and tried to reach for it. When she discovered the knife, Dharman told his wife he was planning on hurting himself, according to police.

At this point, Dharman told investigators he “lost his mind” and stabbed her to death, according to the charges.

He thought he was “sparing her the humiliation” of returning to India, the detective wrote in a report.

The defendant then washed the knife, drank some whiskey in the garage and contemplated suicide, he told investigators.

But he instead called 911 to report he’d killed his wife, according to police. He cooperated with officers as they arrested him.

The couple’s children are now in the custody of family members, according to court documents.

Court records suggest Dharman has no criminal history.

Dharman, who is represented by public defender Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, remained in Snohomish County Jail this week.

Wolfenbarger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434;; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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