A 21-year-old man was arrested in the west Indian state of Gujarat on Wednesday for allegedly beheading an elderly woman he suspected of being a witch.

Reshli Rathwa, 50, was beheaded while she was sleeping in her room Monday night. Her decapitated body was found Tuesday by her son, Jaisinh, who then filed a police complaint. Reshali's 8-year-old niece, Sunita, who was sleeping in the same room at the time of the incident, described two assailants.

She told police that two men entered the room through a window with sharp weapons and threatened her to go back to sleep. Police then launched a manhunt. The dog squad helped them narrow down the search to a small area in the village.

On further investigation, it was found that a villager’s wife had passed away some 15 days ago under mysterious circumstances. The family believed the death was caused by witchcraft as the woman had no illness. Police then found that the woman’s son, Chhagan Rathwa, was absconding since two days. They then arrested him on suspicion of murder.

“We detained Chhagan based on suspicion and he confessed to killing Reshli. He has, however, not told us the exact reason behind committing the crime. His accomplice, Kamlesh Rathwa, is still on the run, but we have formed teams to nab him. We have been granted two days remand for Chhagan and we are investigating the matter further,” said Sub-Inspector Himanshu Gamit, Indian Express reported.

arrest Representational image of Indian police officials escorting alleged pirates at a police station in Mumbai, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Chhagan told police his mother had “returned home after taking cattle out for grazing and died within few hours” and that he consulted a witch doctor on suspicion that his mother had died of witchcraft.

A police source told the Times Of India the witch doctor told Chhagan that a woman who met his mother while she took the cattle for grazing had performed witchcraft on her. Chhagan assumed the woman was Reshali as she used to meet his mother often. He then decided to kill Reshali, and discussed his plan with Kamlesh who decided to help him. The two then went to Reshali’s house and entered her room through a window after removing the iron bars covering it. Chhagan chopped of her head and buried it near a river. He also cut her fingers and toes with a sharp weapon.

Police said the head was recovered after Chhagan led them to the bank of the river.

In a similar incident in July, a 55-year-old woman was beaten to death by her neighbor for allegedly practicing witchcraft in the central Indian state of Jharkhand. The accused, who was arrested the same day, told police he believed his family members were keeping unwell because of the black magic practiced by the woman.