One year later: No sign of missing Munster doctor

2012-03-20T22:00:00Z 2012-03-21T22:15:29Z One year later: No sign of missing Munster doctorBy Vanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

MUNSTER | The aerial surveillance footage of a petite brunette mid-stride, carrying a white envelope as she steps away from her gold SUV, the driver's side door ajar, is the last known image of Dr. Promila Mehta-Paul.

It was captured a year ago today.

Police assume the 70-year-old ophthalmologist from Munster is dead, and they have named her eldest son, Paresh Paul, as a person of interest in the case, Munster Police Chief Stephen Scheckel said.

"We feel that he had involvement in her disappearance," Scheckel said. "He's the main focus of the investigation."

Her body and her car, a gold 2001 Toyota Rav4, still are missing.

In the weeks after she disappeared, police followed leads and searched for the doctor.

"We've used everything from active sonar to mounted horseback to cadaver dogs," Scheckel said. "It's all been fruitless."

The FBI has joined local authorities on the investigation. Tips and leads have trailed off over the last 12 months, although two more came in after reward money was announced in the case in the beginning of March, Scheckel said.

The doctor's two other sons are offering $10,000 for information leading to the discovery of her body and vehicle and another $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who were responsible for her disappearance.

Mehta-Paul was last seen making a deposit at a Highland bank March 21, 2011, after leaving her Highland office, 8219 Kennedy Ave. In the days after her disappearance, employees continued to show up for work, hopeful that the doctor would be there.

But, she never showed. The office since has closed, Scheckel said.

Investigators previously had said Paresh Paul was with her on the night of her disappearance. He was found after her disappearance crossing back into the United States from Mexico at a California entryway, police said.

Paresh Paul has several aliases, including Paul Fountaine, Omar Ahmend and Paul Asconte.

He is in custody at Lake County Jail on pending charges believed to be unrelated to the case of his missing mother.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Munster Police Department's tip line at (219) 836-1010 and leave a name and number. Information will remain confidential during the investigation.

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