The skull and bones that are believed to be the mortal remains of Sandhya Singh - missing sister of music composers Jatin and Lalit - was found a mere 200 yards from her house, say the Navi Mumbai police.
However, the discovery has puzzled both the police and forensics experts, who say that it usually takes a longer time for an entire body to reduce to its skeletal form. Moreover, only a few bones - around 10-15 - along with the skull, were found, and not the entire skeletal framework.
A professor of forensic medicine, said, "I have come across cases where bodies have decomposed and turned skeletal after few months of death. But in all such cases, the remains would have sufficient forensic clues on them such as footwear, clothes, undergarment elastics, metallic hooks attached to clothes and other things that do not decompose fast. In this case, it is a bit surprising that in such a short span of time, the entire body mass was missing and only a few bones and the skull were found. Also most part of the clothes and footwear were missing."
Police surgeon SM Patil, who is also a forensic expert, agreed, saying, "Usually, decomposition of dead body during winter is a slow process, but it is also important in this case to examine the circumstances and the spot where the remains were found. Even if strays and maggots have eaten the dead body, some flesh should have still been on the skeletal remains. Only a DNA examination can solve the mystery."
Meanwhile, the mortal remains have been sent to the Department of Anatomy at JJ Hospital to determine if they belong to a man or woman as well as the approximate age and height of the deceased. An expert from the department confirmed the same, saying, "We have received a skull and around 12-15 bones for examination. We will shortly forward the remains to the Forensics Science Laboratory, Kalina for DNA examination."
Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner A K Sharma said, "Even I had similar doubts, but the family was certain that the skull indeed belong to their missing sister on the basis of certain items - tooth cap, wig and dupatta. But are awaiting the DNA report before drawing any certain conclusions."
Sharma added, "We have found out that on December 13, as per the missing person complaint, she was on her way to Abhyudaya Bank to deposit her gold jewelry, but our investigations have proved that she did not go to the bank."
A senior police officer said, "We have checked all the three mobile phones that she was using and as per the call records, her phones were on till December 13, after which all were switched off."
At the time of her disappearance, Sandhya was staying with her 22-year-old son in Navi Mumbai, while her daughter was in the south of India where she studies. Her husband was posted at Indore. Sandhya's son, told the police that he realised that his mother was not home on the evening of December 14.
He informed his father, who came down and they lodged the missing person complaint the following day." "We have checked all the call records and have traced all those people who were in touch with Sandhya until December 13, but haven't got any clues," the officer said.
Blood samples from Sandhya's family will be used for the DNA identification. A scientist at FSL said, "We are waiting for the samples to reach our lab and will take up the case on priority basis. We would take eight working days to complete our findings."