Mahim murder case: How 16-year-old girl, boyfriend planned to kill Vakola resident Bennett Rebello

Updated: Dec 18, 2019, 14:15 | Jonita Colaco
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    On December 2, chopped human body parts stuffed in a suitcase were recovered from Mahim, when the local police found the bag that washed ashore behind Mahim Dargah at 4.30 pm. "The body parts included a right leg and left hand and were decomposed," a police officer had said.

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    Over 24 hours after recovering the suitcase, the forensic department of Sion hospital managed to extract fingerprints from the arm found inside the bag. Experts gave the fingerprints to cops, claiming they found ink in the capillary veins which indicated the deceased may have voted recently.

    Photo: The suitcase in which the body parts were found and the shirt that was recovered from the suitcase.

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    Apart from limbs, there were two shirts and three pants in the suitcase. "One shirt was readymade, while the other was stitched in Mumbai, police said. Crime Branch unit V, conducting a parallel investigation in the case had confirmed the tailor is from Kurla.

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    The body parts had been cut with fineness leading investigators to believe that they were cut with a machine or blade. It also seemed like a planned murder to them given the effort to destroy evidence.

    Photo: One of the shirts found in the suitcase.

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    Four days later, the case continued to get murkier. While the police managed to trace the tailoring shop where one of the shirts found in the bag was stitched, they were not able to identify the shirt's owner.

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    The tailor at M/s Almo Men's Wear tailors confirmed to the police team that the shirt was stitched at their shop. However, he was unable to find the bill book which could have some details of the person who had gotten the clothes stitched. Forensic experts who examined the body parts said that maggots were visible in the right leg and left upper limb and that they were not decomposed. The body part was saponified (a process that involves conversion of body fat into soap, due to humidity or being in water that arrest decomposition of the body remains). A male private part was also found along with limbs, which weighed 4kgs.

    Photo: The tailoring shop where one of the shirts found in the suitcase was stitched.

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    A shirt piece finally helped the police trace the mysterious body parts to city musician Bennett Rebello, 59, unravelling a gruesome plot, hatched by his adopted daughter for property. Following investigations, the police on Friday arrested Aaradhiya Patil, 19, and her 16-year-old boyfriend who had hatched a plan to kill him at his Vakola residence.

    Photo: Bennett Rebello

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    While Aaradhiya initially told the cops that her "father" was in Canada for a show, she could not withstand the questioning and confessed to have murdered the musician. Sources within the crime branch told mid-day that Patil and her boyfriend, took over three days to get rid of each of the body parts, and continued to stay at the Vakola home to avoid suspicion.

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    In her statement to the police, Patil said, "Papa ne kaha, marne ke baad unka property mera hoga." She told the cops that she killed Rebello in the early hours of November 27. The duo first hit him with a bamboo stick, and stabbed him with a knife. Since he was still alive, they used a pesticide spray on his face, until he stopped breathing. They then separated his lower and upper limb, which they wrapped in a plastic bag and put into a suitcase, dumping it in Mithi River. The next day, they separated the torso and the head, which was also dumped in Mithi. On the third night, they dumped another suitcase with the second limbs, which came floating to Mahim beach on December 2.

    Photo: Bennett Rebello (right) at Soul Fry, Bandra, which he frequented.

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    The two teenagers watched multiple videos online to learn the tricks of disposing of his body without leaving any clue. The duo panicked after killing Rebello. After discussing for a while, Rebello's adopted daughter looked for a wise method online: 'how to dispose of a body'. Later, they bought four choppers, heated the sharp-edged weapons on a kitchen stove and dismembered Rebello's body," a crime branch officer told mid-day. The Crime Branch investigation into the case threw up details that suggest Rebello might have been sexually abusing girls by luring them with his wealth. Aradhya alias Ria's statement pointed to this possibility. Also, according to his lawyer, eight months ago, he had wanted to adopt the child of a woman 'who was in trouble'. During her interrogation, Aradhya admitted that when she told her boyfriend about the sexual abuse by Rebello, the teenage boy got angry and kept pushing her to kill him. 

    Photo: Bennett Rebello's residence in Vakola. Pic/Atul Kamble

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    On December 10, Crime Branch officers found another suitcase with limbs believed to be those of Rebello, from the Mithi River. The suitcase was retrieved by a police friend, Shahnawaz Ansari alias Kallu Ambulance. Ansari, a painter by profession, has pulled out as many as 78 bodies from the river for the police in the past 10 years. He has been fondly called Kallu Ambulance by the police. Despite not knowing how to swim, Ansari dives right into the murky river’s waters without a thought and retrieves the body. mid-day had featured him, 'Kallu Ambulance' dives into Mithi river to fish out dead bodies, on January 23, 2018.

    Photo: Shahnawaz Ansari looks for the suitcase in the Mithi river.

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    On November 29, the third day since the murder and the final day of disposing of the body, Aradhya and the boy went to a nearby grocery and chemist shop to purchase jumbo carry bags and cellotape, and air freshener respectively. 

    Photo: The duo bought a jumbo carry bag like this one.

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    At both places, the duo was captured on CCTV camera. The duo first went to Gala Stores in Vakola at 10.31 pm to purchase jumbo carry bags and cellotape. They exited the shop at 10.34 pm. The jumbo bag was meant to dispose of Rebello's torso. 

    Photo: Aradhiya (face blurred) and her boyfriend at the medical store in Vakola.

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    "We first showed them a bag around 1.5-ft-long; it can carry 5-10kg of weight. But they wanted a bigger one and chose a 2.5-ft-long bag, which can carry weights of up to 25 kg. They bought three of this and three rolls of sellotape," said the shopkeeper Kanji Gala.

    Photo: Gala Stores in Vakola.

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    Next, the duo went to a nearby pharmacy, Holy Cross Medical, at 10.39 pm. They first went through the air fresheners on display and entered the shop at 10:41 pm, asking for a strong air freshener. They left at 10:45 pm.  

    Photo:Holy Cross Medical in Vakola.

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    "They told me, 'chuha mar gaya hai, strong wala air freshener chaheye'. They purchased a small file of Ambipure and paid Rs 199. They were stinking badly. That dirty smell was not normal; it did not seem to be of a dead rat. In fact, I told my colleagues at that time itself, but we didn't suspect them," one of the pharmacists said.

    Photo: The duo at the grocery store.

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    The duo returned to the pharmacy 18 minutes later at 11.03pm, asking for a stronger air freshener. They bought a bigger container of the same brand and left at 11.11pm.

    Photo: Aradhya and her boyfriend seen exiting the pharmacy

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    Rebello's Uncle Steve Ferreira told mid-day that the boyfriend of the woman he was staying with before Aradhiya moved in, badly assaulted Rebello around three months ago for giving her shelter at his Vakola house. According to Aradhya's statements to the police, Mahek was the one who introduced her to Rebello. She used to live with him at his Vakola residence before getting married."Bennett used to live with his siblings and parents in Kalina village. He married a Catholic girl but got divorced around 10 years ago due to some personal issues. He then moved to his Vakola house," Ferreira said.

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    On December 13, the police received a tip-off from a ward boy, attached with Hinduja Hospital, who found a limbless torso with head intact between 7.45 and 8.00 am. According to the Dadar police, the body part was not wrapped in any suitcase. The torso was identified by Bennett Rebello's brother, confirming the body's identity. A three-inch metallic rod inserted in his right hip a few years ago helped confirm his identity. The police found stab wounds on the head and his abdomen which it is suspected to have punctured his kidney.

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    It has also been revealed that the killer duo chopped Rebello's body in the bathroom of his Vakola residence. "The killers had cleaned the floor of the bathroom but traces of blood were found on the walls. Blood-stained clothes, which were used to wipe the walls and floor of the bathroom have also been recovered from the crime scene. In addition, traces of blood were also found on the keyboard of a musical instrument," said a crime Branch officer.

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    Aradhiya's 19-year-old friend, identified as Ali Mia Chaus, was arrested after he was called for questioning, after which he confessed his involvement in the murder."We are yet to establish his exact role in this murder case, but the circumstantial evidence and CCTV footages confirmed that he was also a part of the conspiracy," the officer added.

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    In another twist in the case, Aradhiya was on Sunday found to be a minor after her biological parents were tracked to Navi Mumbai's Rabale and they provide her birth certificate. According to the police, the document contains a different name and the birth year is 2002. The girl, who earlier claimed of being 19 years old, is also said to have lied about her identity. As per the birth certificate she was born on 21/07/2002. According to which, her current age is 17 years, 04 months, 23 days," said a officer from the crime branch. The girl has been sent her to the children's remand home.

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About The Gallery

Musician Bennett Rebello, who was killed and his body pieces thrown into Mithi, had allegedly got his 'adopted' daughter Aradhya Patil home to take care of a pregnant woman (named Mahek) he was living with, his neighbours told mid-day on Wednesday. Rebello was allegedly killed by Aradhya and her boyfriend last month and his body, chopped into several pieces, was thrown into the Mithi River at different locations across Mumbai. Here's all you need to know.