Mahim murder case: Bennett Rebello's dental surgeries might be vital clue

Updated: Dec 15, 2019, 07:23 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

With victim's face beyond recognition, forensic odontologists hope to trace his dental surgeon who, they feel, could help confirm his identity

Bag containing Bennett Rebello's hand and leg found in the Mithi riverbed
Bag containing Bennett Rebello's hand and leg found in the Mithi riverbed

Vital forensic clues were found by the forensic odontologist and surgeons attached to LTMG Hospital, where the mortal remains of Bennett Rebello have been preserved. This might help in confirming his identity, as Rebello's face is currently beyond recognition.

In the last one week, the crime branch has been able to find seven detached body parts of Rebello dumped by the accused in Mithi river. They are still looking for a missing right arm, to complete the human skeletal.

On Saturday, while examining the head and torso that washed ashore on Prabhadevi chowapatty on Friday, the forensic odontologists Dr Ankita Vora and Dr Marisha Vatts found that the deceased only had 25 of the 32 teeth. Seven teeth were missing—two on the upper jaw and five from the lower jaw.

Confirming the same, Dr Anikta Vora said, "Ideally a person of Rebello's age [59] would have all 32 teeth intact, but we found the deceased had only 25 teeth. Also of the 25 teeth, we found that he had undergone prosthesis dental treatment for seven of them, which includes root canal treatment in five teeth."

This piece of information is crucial, as the investigating police team can now trace the dentist, who could help identify the deceased. "The dental X-Ray reports preserved by the dentist and our findings can be matched, to verify that the body is Bennett's," explained Dr Vora. Interestingly, this is the first case to be analysed by the forensic odontoligist at LTMG Hospital, since its inception a year ago.

When asked about the approximate time period of the last dental treatment undergone by the deceased, Dr Vora, said, "On the basis of crown conditions, it could be ascertained that the deceased might have last visited his dentist approximately one-and-a-half to two years ago."

In case the police fail to trace the dentist or if the dentist doesn't have X-Ray records, the ondontoligist said that they might have to recreate the face on the skull. Such a procedure usually takes time as tissues from the skull will have to be cleaned, before recreating the face. Dr Rajesh Dhere, head of forensic department said that the accused, though first timers had studied how to commit the murder and dispose of the body.

"We have found a contused lacerated wound (CLW) above the forehead, which had led to a minor crack. It was caused using a blunt object. Also, five to six stab wounds were seen on the deceased's abdomen area, indicating that the accused had used a sharp-edged weapon to cause the injury and to separate the limbs, thereby causing injuries around the joints," explained Dr Dhere.

According to Dr Dhere, the remains have saponified (process that involves conversion of fat into soap) due to being in water. "Since the remains were dumped in Mithi river, which already has a lot of waste and pollutants, the skin has also discoloured."

The left femur bone had an implant, indicating an old fracture, which was subsequently re-operated. Nails and screws have been found around the femur area, which is also crucial piece of evidence to identify the deceased. The investigating police might look for the orthopaedic who had operated on Rebello. The cause of death as per the analysis given is: Haemorrhagic shock due to stab wounds associated with head injury.

The forensic surgeons have also collected the nasal and sub nasal swabs, skin etc to ascertain the presence of any pesticide residues for forensic analysis. The accused had told the police that post hitting Rebello with a hard object, they stabbed him multiple times. They then used pesticide spray to ensure that he was dead. Interestingly, the torso or other body parts were not eaten by any aquatic animal or strays. This could help in proper identification of the parts.

Body parts found

Dec 2
A white-coloured trolley bag containing a right leg, left hand and male genitalia were found near Mahim beach at 4.30 pm

Dec 10
A second bag was found in Mithi River behind American School in BKC at 5.30 pm. The bag contained a left leg and right hand

Dec 11
At 12.30 pm, a plastic bag was found behind Kurla Kabristan during a search operation by the crime branch

Dec 13
Human torso with head intact washed ashore at Prabhadevi beach at 8 am, which was later identified as that of Bennett Rebello

Accused's blood samples collected

On Friday, the crime branch team took the accused, Aaradhiya Patil, to the department of forensic medicine, LTMG where her blood sample was collected. Dr Dhere added, "We will be sending the blood sample of the accused for DNA analysis and blood group details. It will be compared with any skin remains or blood stains, if any, found in the nail clippings of the deceased.

Police recover weapon

A senior crime branch officer said that they have already recovered the sharp-edged weapon used in the crime and handed it over for forensic analysis to FSL, Kalina.
The crime branch investigation has also revealed that Patil did not have any legal papers to show that she was legally adopted by Bennett. The only document recovered was a paper, which stated that she was staying willfully with him.

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