Family found dead in disputed Mumbai flat

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 19 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Four members of a family were found dead in a disputed flat of a Mumbai highrise on Monday.

Police suspect it to be a case of murder and suicide over a financial crisis. They have registered an accidental death report and are awaiting the post-mortem reports to pinpoint the exact cause and nature of the deaths.

The deceased have been identified as Donato Anthony (49), his wife Elizabeth (45), son Jason (12) and daughter Vivenne (4). Their bodies were found in flat number 501 of the 11-storey Odyssey Tower in Bhakti Park, Wadala.

Anthony's brother Anil, who has claimed the bodies, discovered them. The police found that the faces of all the four deceased were covered with black polythene bags and their bodies were partly decomposed. The police prima facie suspect that Donato may have either strangulated the children, or he and wife consumed poison or they spiked their drinks. "At this juncture, we cannot say anything until the post-mortem results are out and the FSL (forensic science laboratory) gives its opinion," said senior inspector Nagesh Jadhav of Wadala TT police. As the bodies were partly decomposed, the police called the FSL to carry out a detailed inquest of the flat.

The police have learnt that Donato initially worked as a video editor in a film-editing firm but lost his job in 2007 during the economic slowdown. The same year, he bought a 550-square-foot 1BHK flat from one Kashmira Zaveria for Rs 36 lakh through an estate agent, Chetan Shah. Donato paid Rs 20 lakh and took possession of the flat, and promised to pay the rest in a few months.

But two of Donato's cheques bounced, Shah told the police. "Kashmira therefore returned his Rs 20 lakh and sold the flat to one Naveen Narale. Donato first requested Kashmira give him a few days to vacate the flat, but later he simply refused to do so,'' said Shah.

Kashmira and Narale then filed a civil suit against Donato. "Narale kept depositing the society's maintenance amount in court and we heard the court was to give its final verdict on Friday,'' said Ajit Singh Banga, secretary of Odyssey Tower.

The police have also got information that he allegedly took "heavy loans" from a bank and was being harassed by recovery agency. Despite his financial condition, he drove a Ford Endeavour.

According to the police, at 9.30am on Monday, Donato's brother Anil, who lives in Worli, arrived at the flat with his son Gracious, and opened the lock with duplicate keys. Both were thrown by a strong stench emanating from the bedroom, where they found the bodies. Curiously, the AC was on in full blast. Anil immediately informed a neighbour who, in turn, called up the Wadala police.

"On Friday, Donato had called Anil saying he was leaving the city for three days and would be back only by Tuesday. Donato asked his brother to visit his flat to water the plants and feed the fish in the tank,'' said Datta Karale, deputy commissioner of police (Zone 4).

The police did not find a suicide note in the flat. However, they found two cans of some pesticide or a poisonous liquid, perhaps used to clean toilets. The police also recovered Donato's laptop and are trying to find out whether he had written or emailed a suicide note to anybody.

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