Murder in Mahim: Suitcase unlocks tale of betrayal

Horror story: Aradhya Patil, who was held for the murder of her adoptive father Bennett Rebello, being escorted by Crime Branch officers on Saturday.

Horror story: Aradhya Patil, who was held for the murder of her adoptive father Bennett Rebello, being escorted by Crime Branch officers on Saturday.

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s investigations into the body parts found in Mahim have unravelled a horrifying tale of betrayal and murder. The tailor’s label on a shirt found with the body parts helped police identify the victim and arrest his teenage adopted daughter on Saturday. Her boyfriend, who is a minor, has also been booked in the case.

The body parts — a hand, a leg and male genitals — had washed ashore in a suitcase behind the Mahim dargah on December 2. The suitcase also contained a white shirt, trousers and a red half-sleeved sweater. The Mahim Police had sent the body parts for forensic examination and registered a case of murder against unknown persons. The Crime Branch Unit V was instructed to conduct parallel inquiries into the matter.

“The shirt had a label saying ‘Almo Men’s Wear’ on its back, and we made inquiries till we found a tailor’s shop by that name in Kurla. Inquiries began with the owner, Afroze Ansari, who turned over his bills for the last 100 days to us, and we started examining them,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Shahaji Umap said.

Bennett Rebello. Photo: Facebook

Bennett Rebello.


The investigating team first hit a roadblock when they found a possible candidate based on the description of the clothes he had ordered. However, when a team went to his house, they found him hale and hearty, still in possession of the shirt in question. The team then scanned Mr. Ansari’s records further till they found another possible candidate, named only as ‘Bennett’ in the bill.

“We searched for the name on social media and found a profile in the name of Bennett Rebello on Facebook. In one picture, he was wearing a half-sleeved red sweater similar to the one recovered from the suitcase. We scanned the profile further and found a picture of his visiting card, which had his contact number and address,” Mr. Umap said.

The Unit V then sent some personnel to his Santacruz residence, who, posing as friends, asked for him in the locality and were told that he had not been seen for the last eight to 10 days. Neighbours also told the team that he used to stay with his 19-year-old adopted daughter.

The police then spoke to the girl, who first claimed that Rebello had gone to Canada for a few days. However, when she could not answer basic questions like why he had gone and who he was staying with, the Crime Branch became suspicious. After hours of constant questioning, she allegedly broke down and confessed. The police believe that the murder was pre-planned.

“On November 26, she and her 16-year-old boyfriend went to her house and beat Rebello unconscious with bamboo sticks, after which they stabbed him and sprayed pesticide in his face. After making sure he was dead, they sold his cell phone for ₹4,500 and used the money to buy four meat cleavers and several bottles of room freshener. For the next three days, they hacked the body into several pieces, heating the blades of the cleaver to make cutting through bone easier. They stayed in the same house while the body decomposed, and kept spraying room freshener to mask the smell,” a Unit V officer said.

On December 1, they stuffed the parts into three suitcases and threw them into a stretch of the Mithi river that flows through Vakola, and one of them washed ashore at Mahim the next day.

“She has claimed that she committed the crime because Rebello was sexually exploiting her, but we are verifying her claims. She had run away from home at the age of 14 and had come to stay with him a year-and-a-half ago. If she had indeed been facing abuse, she would have left again, as Rebello would travel a lot. She let it slip during her questioning that Rebello had promised her that his house would be passed on to her after he died, and this could be the real motive behind the murder. He was also opposed to her relationship with her boyfriend, and her lifestyle, which included coming home at odd hours of the night,” another officer, who was part of the questioning, said.

She was arrested and handed over to the Mahim Police, while her boyfriend was booked and sent to the Juvenile Remand Home in Dongri. Both have been charged with murder and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code.

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Printable version | May 13, 2022 4:26:18 pm |