BY A STAFF WRITER
MEMPHIS, TN -- The Panola County, Mississippi, Coroner’s office on March 13 identified the remains found in a rural area as those of Indian American businessman Sanjay “Sam” Patel.
Patel had been missing since the evening of October 3, 2016, when he and a frequent customer, Marcus Perry, left the liquor store he owns in Memphis, Tennessee.
According to a report from the Bartlett, Tennessee, Police Department, which has been investigating the case for six months, a farmer called the police to say he had located a large Christmas tree bag on his land. The property owner said he noticed the bag flapping since January but never went to look.
Contents of the bag as well as other evidence located in the immediate area were taken to the Panola County Medical Examiner’s office on February 28 for identification, and compared with Patel’s DNA.
The police returned to the area on March 3 with a cadaver dog, and found additional evidence.
Panola County Medical Examiner Gracie Gulledge released her findings to Bartlett police, conclusively stating that Patel’s body had been found.
On the evening of October 3, Patel and Perry left “Five Star Wine and Spirits” in the care of Patel’s wife Shilpa, and took off in Perry’s vehicle. Patel did not return home that evening.
Perry’s car was spotted the following day, but he was not found until October 11, when his brother entered his home in Bartlett to find Perry dead face down in his bed with a Glock pistol in his hand, aimed at his head.
The police believe Perry committed suicide.
“There is no indication of what transpired that evening,” said Bartlett Police Captain Tina Schaber, adding that there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol at the crime scene.
Perry’s home was searched. His Samsung cell phone was also searched for text messages, images, voice messages and call history. Cell phone records and “pings” from Perry’s phone led investigators to the area of Panola County.
Perry had family ties to that area and his cell phone pinged in that location numerous times after Patel was reported missing, according to police reports.
Perry was a regular customer at Patel’s store. According to Shilpa Patel, his wife, Perry would frequently come in to buy a bottle of cognac.
Meanwhile, Patel’s brother Alpesh, who lives in Gujarat, has urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to ask the police to step up their investigation into Patel’s death. Alpesh has also requested a visa to travel to the US.
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