Polk County Sheriff's Homicide detectives are conducting a homicide investigation today of a one-year-old baby boy. Preliminary information is as follows:
Around 7:20 a.m. on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 33-year-old Rasesh Patel leaves his home, 2550 Colonel Ford Drive in Lakeland, for work and takes his 4-year-old daughter to preschool on the way. Rasesh works at JP Morgan in Tampa as a Quality Assurance Officer.
Around 10:30 a.m., Rasesh begins calling home to check on his 32-year-old wife, Neha, and their one-year-old baby boy, Ishan, but there is no answer.
From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Rasesh continues to call home, but there is no answer. Rasesh heads home. Rasesh arrives home around 1:30 p.m. and finds his wife and baby gone, and his wife’s cell phone left behind. Rasesh calls friends and family looking for Neha, but nobody knows where she is. Rasesh picks up his daughter from preschool and continues looking for his wife.
Around 5:30 p.m., Rasesh gets a phone call from American Express telling him that Neha's credit card was used at a Shell gas station in Ocala. Rasesh “Googles” hotels in Ocala, and drives to Ocala looking for Neha. He doesn't find her.
Around 7:30 p.m., Rasesh returns home and calls PCSO to report his wife missing. He tells deputies that she suffers from postpartum depression and is not taking her medication (it was left behind at the residence).
During the evening, Rasesh takes his daughter and a friend of his to Tampa General Hosptial looking for his wife and baby – Neha has driven there before because the baby was born premature and stayed there for 4 months. She isn’t there. Rasesh returns home.
Between 2:00 and 2:40 a.m. on Friday, February 17th, Neha comes home, and Rasesh sees she has the baby wrapped in blanket. Neha refuses to answer Rasesh’s questions about where she has been. Eventually Neha tells Rashesh that she killed the baby earlier that day. Neha then climbs into bed, and refuses to talk. Rasesh calls Neha’s father – she hears him calling her father, gets angry, says she’s going to kill herself, and leaves.
At 2:43 a.m., Rasesh calls 9-1-1, and first responders attempt CPR, but the baby has been dead for some time. A statewide BOLO (Be On Look Out) is put out for Neha and her vehicle.
At 5:26 a.m. this morning, Neha's credit card was used at a parking garage at Tampa International Airport. It was then used at 5:33 a.m. this morning at a 7-11 gas station in Tampa.
At 1:13 p.m. today, an employee with Ampco Parking, the company that manages the airport's parking facilities, called the Tampa Airport Police Department, advising that a car fitting the description of Patel's vehicle had been seen driving into the airport's long-term parking garage.
At 1:18 p.m., Ampco notified airport police that the vehicle was parked on the garage's fourth level, against a wall. At 1:19 p.m., Airport Police Officers Jason Thomas and Thomas Woods removed Patel from the vehicle and took her to an airport holding cell. Tampa Airport police contacted Polk County detectives, who are interviewing Patel at this time. She will be booked into the Hillsborough County jail later this evening.
Neha worked as a pharmacist at the CVS pharmacy on Socrum Loop Road in North Lakeland, but quit on Sunday, February 12, 2012. Neha is considered a suspect in this homicide and is also considered missing and endangered. She has threatened in the past to kill herself.
PCSO Homicide detectives interviewed Neha Patel at length in Tampa after Tampa International Airport (TIA) Police Officers found her sitting in her Toyota Sienna van in the TIA parking lot. Neha made a full confession to PCSO detectives that she killed her one-year-old son.
Neha told detectives that she and her son Ishan (DOB 1-12-2011) were home alone yesterday (Thursday, February 16th) and in the living room together. She said the baby was playing with the television remote, and then began crawling towards her. She said that she hates the baby, and as he began crawling to her, she slapped him twice on his face in an attempt to discourage him from coming near her. She then put the baby down for a nap.
Neha told detectives that when the baby woke up from his nap, she put him in the bathtub, filled it half full of water, and left him in there alone “for 10 minutes.” When she returned to take him out of the tub, she said he was unconscious. She said she knows CPR, but chose not to do it or to call 911. She told detectives she then put clothes on the baby and put him in the car and drove through a Publix parking lot near her home, then back home. She went inside but can’t remember if she took the baby inside with her. She then got back in the van and drove to Ocala, and then to TIA in Tampa. She told detectives that she knew the baby was deceased during this drive because he was “blue” and “cold.”
She told detectives that she drove to TIA with the intention of killing herself by jumping off the roof of the parking garage. However, she decided to go back home because there were too many people at the airport.
When she got home, she was confronted by her husband, who demanded to know where she had been and what was wrong with the baby. She said she took the baby to his room, placed him in his crib, and then eventually told her husband that she had killed their son by drowning him. She said that when her husband began calling relatives she became very angry and told him she was leaving because she didn’t want to go to jail, and that instead she was going to kill herself.
Neha said she then drove back to TIA with the intention of jumping off the parking garage roof and committing suicide. She said she didn’t jump because every time she would get ready to jump, someone would walk by.
Neha was very candid with detectives that she has hated her baby since the day he was born, and she blamed him for her “state of mind.” She did not mention depression, just that she hated her son.
Neha has been booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on a Polk County warrant for First Degree Murder. She will be transported to the Polk County Jail at a later date.
"This absolutely makes me sick. To think of the torture that this child endured is beyond imagination. Our love for children, and our desire to protect children, is unlimited -- the only solace there is in this case is that Neha Patel will not be able to hurt another child, because she is in jail where she belongs." - Sheriff Grady Judd