Emergency responders search pond, golf course in hunt for missing doctor

2011-03-30T19:00:00Z 2012-03-20T18:20:54Z Emergency responders search pond, golf course in hunt for missing doctorBy Pete Nickeas pete.nickeas@nwi.com, (219) 933-4184 nwitimes.com

MUNSTER | Emergency responders Wednesday morning focused their search for a missing Munster doctor in the area around a pond near her home on Twin Creek Boulevard and along the Centennial Park golf course.

Munster Police Chief Stephen Scheckel said his department had no evidence to suggest Dr. Promila Mehta-Paul would be in the area where officers, firefighters and horse-mounted volunteers were searching.

"It's just due diligence," he said.

Scheckel said officials haven't found any evidence and that the family has cooperated with the ongoing investigation.

Horse-mounted volunteers from Porter County assisted firefighters and police officers. A team of three scoured a ridge at the south end of Centennial Golf Course near a pond just before noon.

Across the pond, two others hacked through brush in their search.

Scheckel said the area already was searched, but officials were taking a more "methodical" approach to the search.

Munster police Sgt. Steve Kovacik said the search was completed early in the afternoon without any new leads or evidence.

"We had horses and stuff available. We just wanted to make sure we did a thorough search of the area," he said.

Mehta-Paul, 70, an ophthalmologist, was last seen making a bank deposit in Highland on March 21 after leaving her Highland practice at 8219 Kennedy Ave.

Police searched her home in the 9000 block of Twin Creek Boulevard and that of a neighbor on Monday and Tuesday, Munster police said.

Police said they conducted a second search late Monday afternoon of the doctor's home and a home across the street, which the doctor was watching for the vacationing owners.

Police said investigators removed some items in hopes of determining the doctor's whereabouts, but they did not elaborate on the nature of the items.

Mehta-Paul was in the midst of a 15-year fight with ex-husband Shashi Daman Paul when she disappeared, according to federal court records.

Accusations of libel, perjury and fraud are contained within the thousands of pages documents filed in the case.

Mehta-Paul accused her ex-husband and his lawyer of funneling millions of dollars out of her pension in a 2003 bankruptcy-related filing.

She also wrote a three-page letter to Shashi Daman Paul's attorney, accusing him of fraud.

Thomas Rucinski, attorney for her ex-husband, responded by warning her that she could be sued for libel and asked her to "govern yourself accordingly."

That case began in 1996 and was pending when she disappeared.

Shashi Daman Paul said in a written statement to the media he is concerned about the welfare of his ex-wife and is "worried" about his sons having to deal with the disappearance of their mother.

He also said he is cooperating with the investigation but wouldn't give any details into what he was questioned about, according to the statement.

Arthur Sanderman, Mehta-Paul's attorney in the ongoing case, declined to comment Wednesday, except to confirm he was her attorney. He would not say whether he has been contacted by law enforcement about Mehta-Paul's disappearance.

Detectives still are searching for Mehta-Paul's Toyota Rav 4, which was seen in surveillance video from the bank.

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