MUNSTER, Ind. (STMW) — Munster police continue to sift through evidence gathered from two homes searched earlier to glean clues in the disappearance of Munster ophthalmologist Promila Mehta-Paul.
Mehta-Paul, 70, has not been seen locally by family, neighbors or co-workers since she left her Highland office March 21. A Highland bank camera recorded the last known sighting of her that evening making a bank deposit. Police said she returned to her home in Munster’s Twin Creek subdivision and vanished.
Police Chief Steve Scheckel said his investigators have received no new information about Mehta-Paul, although he said a few phone calls from residents reported sightings in the area.
“But we have no solid leads about where she might be,” he said.
Scheckel said police are investigating those tips and others. He confirmed that Mehta-Paul did not leave a suicide note and did not appear to be despondent or sad. “The investigation is not going in that direction at all,” he said. “Suicide has been ruled out.”
He also said no drugs appeared missing from her home or office and she hadn’t made any large financial transactions recently.
Scheckel said Munster police are conducting a forensic analysis of her computer and hope it offers new evidence.
“We’re in the process of doing all that now,” he said. “It’s taking a while and we don’t have anything revealing yet.”
Scheckel would not comment whether Mehta-Paul faced any large financial obligations or debts and declined to characterize her relationship with her three sons, one of whom recently lived with her. The other two reside out of state. He said police have interviewed all of the sons as well as Mehta-Paul’s ex-husband, pediatrician Shashi Damon Paul, who lives in Schererville and practices in Munster and LaJolla, Calif.
She and her ex-husband have been locked in costly litigation nearly two decades after she filed for divorce from him in 1991. They were married in India in 1971.
Scheckel would not say whether items such as her passport, bank account papers or other important documents were missing.
“I’m ill prepared to comment on that right now,” Scheckel said. “This is fluid. We’re interviewing people and, when questions arise, we get back in touch with them.”
Scheckel also would not say whether Mehta-Paul’s home or the house she was watching for neighbors while they were vacationing contained blood or showed signs of a struggle, burglary or break-in.
“The evidence is still being analyzed and it’s premature to speculate about what we’re looking at,” he said. “There are some things we don’t have answers for. We’re still waiting for the crime labs to come back with analysis to help us understand what we’re dealing with. It’s not like CSI when the evidence and test results come back 15 minutes later.”
Scheckel said finding Mehta-Paul’s vehicle is a big goal. Her gold 2001 Toyota Rav4 does not feature a GPS or OnStar navigation and communication system microchip that would allow police to track its location. “We have been unable to locate it thus far.”
Mehta-Paul wasn’t reported missing until Wednesday, Munster police spokesman Steven Kovacik said.