Police in India have recovered the skeletal remains of half-a-dozen people from a pit at missing Bollywood starlet Laila Khan’s luxury Igatpuri farmhouse.
According to Mumbai’s Joint Commissioner of Police, Himanshu Roy, the pit containing the human remains — a pit they believe was initially intended for an underground water tank — was 12 feet long, 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Inside it, three sets of remains were found covered with mud and stones on top of a blood-soaked mattress. Beneath the mattress, authorities recovered three additional sets of skeletal remains, another mattress, and possible murder weapons.
“We recovered one iron rod with blood stains on it and two knives with bloodstains on them,” Roy said at a Thursday press conference.
Roy added that “substantial injuries, including head injuries” were observed on the victims.
A positive identification of the victims — one male and five females — is pending DNA testing; however, Roy said it is “reasonably likely that these skeletons belong to Laila Khan and her family.”
Laila Khan, born Reshma Patel, was best known for her role opposite Rajesh Khanna in the 2008 Bollywood film, “A Deadly Love Story.” At the time of her disappearance, she was in the process of shooting a film with Bollywood film director Rakesh Sawant.
Khan, 30, her mother Saleena Patel, older sister Hashmina, twin siblings Imran and Zara, and cousin Rehshma have been missing since February 2011. The family had been staying at Khan’s farmhouse — a holiday home — since late the previous month.
The family was reported missing by Sawant and Patel’s ex-husband, Nadir Shah Patel. Authorities were unable to find any trace of Khan or her family and the case soon went cold.
On June 21 of this year, authorities got their first break when they questioned Khan’s stepfather, Parvez Iqbal Tak. During the interview, Tak allegedly told police several stories, including one that he and the house watchman, Shakir Hussain, had killed Khan and her five family members and buried their bodies behind her holiday home.
Tak, who claims to be Patel’s third husband, allegedly said he was jealous of her second husband, Asif Sheikh.
According to Roy, “Tak felt that the family relied a lot on Sheikh and that he had an influence over them. This often angered Tak.”
Tak allegedly killed his wife and then the others because they had witnessed the murder. Roy said he believed the killings were committed in the “heat of the moment.”
On Tuesday, Tak pointed out the spot on the property where the bodies had been disposed, police said.
Charges in the case are pending.