NORTHBROOK — More than 40 members of the Northbrook Police Department and the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force continue to interview people and review forensic evidence trying to solve the village’s first murder since 2009.
Jigar K. Patel, 36 and a real estate attorney who works in the village, was found by Northbrook Police strangled December 7 in his workplace on the third floor at 1363 Shermer Road, according to Northbrook Police Chief Charles Wernick.
Wernick said Patel was last seen alive at approximately 4 p.m. December 7 by his secretary just before she left the office. He said Patel’s wife called Prospect Heights Police around 7:30 p.m. to file a missing persons report.
“He was supposed to be someplace after work and didn’t show up,” said Wernick during a news conference December 10 at the Northbrook police station. “Then (Prospect Heights Police) called us. Our officers responded, got a key holder to let him into (Patel’s) third floor office and they found him dead on the floor from ligature strangulation.”
Wernick said no one is in custody and there is no person of interest at this time. He said both Northbrook officers and members of NORTAF are pursuing multiple leads while looking at forensic evidence, surveillance video and other potential evidence.
“Yes there are,” said Wernick when asked if there were cameras. “There were a lot of people on the floor (during the time in question). We’re trying to contact each one to see what they know. There are 20 offices on the floor.”
Along with watching the videos, detectives are looking at Patel’s business calendar to learn who he was in contact with during the day, according to Wernick. When asked if there was evidence suggesting an angry client or whether some other person related to Patel’s practice might have had a reason to hurt him, Wernick said it was too early to ascertain the motive.
“Everything is on the table,” said Wernick. “We’re looking at everything.”
Wernick would say if a weapon was found at the scene.
Wernick also emphasized the homicide was an isolated incident and not a random slaying. He said the strong likelihood is the killer was specifically “targeting” Patel.
“There is no reason to believe somebody randomly walked in off the street and murdered him,” said Wernick.
Wernick did say Patel was a father and a respected real estate lawyer in the community. He had two young daughters, according to a WGN-TV report.
At least a dozen NORTAF investigators including its forensic unit were seen at the Shermer Road office building at approximately 2:30 p.m. December 10.