Cops piece together mystery of body parts found in suitcase on Dec 2

Mumbai: Crime Branch police arrested two persons on Saturday, in connection with the murder of a 59-year-old man whose body parts had been found in a suitcase at Mahim beach last week. Police identified the deceased as a musician, Bennett Rebello, based on circumstantial evidence like the tailoring tag on the clothes found on his body. Their probe revealed that Bennett's 'adopted' daughter, Aradhya Patil alias Riya Rebello, 19, had killed him with the help of her 16-year-old boyfriend. While police have booked both the accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for murder and causing disappearance of evidence, only Aradhya was arrested and the minor was sent to the remand home at Dongri.

On December 2, a passerby had spotted a floating black suitcase with a leg sticking out of it at Mahim beach behind the Makhdoom Shah Baba Dargah and police were alerted about the incident. Mahim Police reached the spot and opened the suitcase which had a severed arm and leg, with two shirts, a pair of trousers and a maroon sweater. Police began investigating the case and a parallel probe was also begun by the city crime branch, who found a tailoring tag on one of the shirts from the Almo Men's Wear Shop, Kurla.

The tailor, on being questioned, looked through his bills, to each of which is stapled a tiny snip of the fabric being tailored, for reference. He told police, he had sewn the shirt a while ago for a customer, Bennett. Police then scanned social media sites to look for Bennett, in the hope that he may have possibly worn the shirt in any of his shared photos. As luck would have it, they found the Facebook profile of a Bennett Rebello, wearing a maroon sweater in one of his pictures, similar to the one found in the suitcase. Further investigation revealed he had uploaded his visiting card on the social networking site and the signature on this matched that found on the tailor's bill, thus enabling police to identify the body.

A police team reached Bennett's Vakola residence, which was locked. Neighbours told police Bennett had not been seen for the last eight days, which police found significant. After preliminary investigations, police learnt, he had an 'adopted' daughter, who lived with him. The adopted daughter shuttled between Vakola and her biological parents' house in Asalpha, said police. Acting on this information, a police team traced 19-year-old Aradhya to Asalpha and questioned her about Bennett. "She said Bennett was in Dubai for work and would return in a few days. Under intense interrogation, however, Aradhya confessed to having killed her foster father," an officer said.

Aradhya, a Class 12 dropout, told police she had been living with Bennett for two years, and claimed to have been sexually abused by him on several occasions. She was in a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old boy, who stayed in her parents' neighbourhood. When Bennett got learnt about this, he strongly objected to her relationship and this enraged the teens.

On November 26, while Bennett was sleeping, the couple thrashed him with a bamboo stick and stabbed him with a sharp knife multiple times, in a premeditated move. Although bleeding, Bennett was still breathing, so the couple allegedly sprayed him with a mosquito killer, after which he died. The couple stayed remained in the Vakola house for three days after the crime. They chopped the body into pieces with the help of four newly purchased sharp knives, stuffed it in three suitcases and tossed the bags into the Mithi River, taking an autorickshaw to the spot three days after.

Police are trying to ascertain whether Aradhya was legally adopted, as no papers were found when police conducted a panchnama of Bennett's Vakola residence. "Legally, a single man cannot adopt a girl and we will probe how this adoption went through, or did he illegally have her custody. We will also question Aradhya's parents in connection with this adoption angle," said a crime branch officer.

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