UPDATED: Missing Doctor’s Ex-Husband Speaks Out
Updated 03/30/11 – 4:23 p.m.
MUNSTER, Ind. (CBS) — Speaking for the first time since his ex-wife disappeared, a doctor from northwestern Indiana said Thursday he is hopeful his former spouse will be found safe.
Dr. Promila Mehta-Paul, 70, has been missing for more than a week. Her ex-husband, Dr. Shashi Damon Paul spoke out about his ex-wife’s disappearance for the first time in a phone interview with CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.
“Basically it is very devastating for the whole family,” her ex-husband, Shashi Paul said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I’m hopeful no harm has come to her.”
Shashi Paul acknowledged that he and his ex-wife went through a messy multimillion dollar divorce for nearly two decades, including charges of physical abuse by him.
“As a father, I’m worried about my sons having to deal with the disappearance of their mother,” he said. “For the sake of the investigation, I will not reveal the nature of my cooperation with the police.”
Munster Police Chief Stephen Scheckel acknowledged that the Mehta-Paul’s relationship with her ex-husband has been a part of the investigation. As for whether police have any suspects in her disappearance, Scheckel said police were “keeping all our options open.”
Earlier Wednesday, police searched a pond, creek and golf course in Munster, about a two blocks away from Mehta-Paul’s home, to make sure they didn’t miss anything on their first probe of the rough terrain.
“We were hoping that maybe we’d find that little shred of evidence we were looking for,” Scheckel said.
Horses were also brought out for the search, but the effort turned up empty.
Munster Police Sgt. Steven Kovacik told Newsradio 780’s John Cody that police have not received specific information that would lead them to search the lake. However, they were looking there because they have the resources to conduct the search as part of the overall investigation.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports
In addition to her ex-husband, police have interviewed extended family members and an adult son, 38-year-old Paresh Paul, who’d been living with her.
Paresh Paul has been arrested in Indiana before for DUI and battery, but – like his father – police said he’s cooperated fully in the investigation.
On Tuesday, police released a new image showing Mehta-Paul making a deposit at a First Bank branch in Highland, also on March 21. Her missing 2001 gold Toyota RAV 4 is in the background.
The following day, Mehta-Paul uncharacteristically failed to show up for appointments. She has not been seen since.
Earlier this week, investigators spent several hours on Monday at her home in the Twin Creeks subdivision in Munster. Police said no signs of violence were observed in the home but some undisclosed items were taken from the house that may provide clues to the investigation.
Mehta-Paul is of Indian descent with dark hair and dark eyes, standing 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighing about 130 pounds.
Since alerting the public on Sunday, police have received several dozen tips, but none have shed any light on what’s happened to the typically responsible and well-liked doctor.
Police said the doctor’s local family, which includes one of her three sons, has been quite helpful in the investigation, but at this time there are no suspects, no signs of foul play, and her disappearance remains a mystery.
Anyone with information about where Mehta-Paul is or anyone who may have seen her since March 21 is asked to call the Munster Police Department at (219) 836-6600 or the Highland Police Department at (219) 838-3181.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.