Chicago: A 70-year-old woman doctor of Indian origin, who disappeared nearly six months ago, is believed to be dead, according to police, who have zeroed in on her eldest son as a possible suspect in the case.
Promila Mehta-Paul, a northwest Indiana-based ophthalmologist, was last seen on the evening of March 21, and did not show up at the office the next day despite having several appointments.
Police said, Promila`s 38-year-old son Paresh Paul was with her, when she disappeared. He has made "several inconsistent statements, when questioned by officers, they said.
According to a local daily, police named Paresh "a person of interest", or someone, who may have been involved in the case, after they conducted several searches of Promila`s residence leading them to believe that "foul play is likely to have occurred." Police now believe that Promila is dead.
Another newspaper quoted Munster police chief, Stephen Scheckel as saying, that Paresh was living with his mother at the time of her disappearance on March 21 and also vanished from that date, until he was found crossing the border into the United States from Mexico on foot on March 26.
He was detained by US Border Patrol in San Ysidro, California, after a national alert had been issued. Detectives from Munster and Highland then attempted to interview Paresh in California, but he refused to talk and hired a lawyer.
"We`ve narrowed the investigation down to just him," Scheckel said, adding that police have eliminated other family members from involvement in the case.
Promila`s ex-husband Shashi Daman Paul, an MD, and their other two sons have been eliminated as possible suspects. "Our focus is now on the son (Paresh)," Scheckel said.
He declined to disclose any potential motive, but noted that in July Paresh filed to seek guardianship to become the legal executor of Promila`s estate. A September 15 hearing is planned in Lake County court, with Paresh claiming in court
documents that his mother is incapacitated and her, whereabouts are unknown.
"No one has had any contact with her (Promila)", since her disappearance, Sgt Steven Kovacik, a spokesman for the Munster Police Department, was quoted as saying by a local daily.
"No, we have not found her body," he added.
Police are also trying to verify the travel schedules from March 21-27 of Paresh, who also goes by the names of Paul Fountaine, Omar Ahmend and Paul Asconte.
According to public records, Paresh`s last address was in Los Angeles. There, in 2009, the Internal Revenue Service placed a federal tax lien against him for USD 536,550.
A tax lien is a form of security interest that may be imposed for failure to pay income taxes or delinquent taxes owed on real or personal property.