The bodies of the property dealers - Ramdas Patil, 53, of Pendhar village, Balaram Tople, 42, of Sivakar village, Nitin Joshi, 40, from New Panvel and Pritam Gharat, 25, of Murbi village - were found on Wednesday. The farmhouse, at Shiravale village, is owned by Datta Patil, vice-chairman of the Panvel Agriculture Produce Market Committee. Ramdas was Datta's nephew.
"The post mortem report reveals they were killed between 12.30am and 3am on Wednesday," said Sunil Bajare, inspector, New Panvel police. Police said that while Ramdas was bludgeoned to death with a stone, the other three were shot near their foreheads. A country pistol was found in Tople's hand. "The pistol found in his hand was not used for the murder. It could be a ploy to mislead us into thinking that he killed the others," said Bajare.
Larku Durge, 50, the caretaker of the farm house, said the victims had come to the farm house on November 11. "Ramdas asked me not to come to the house for three-four days as they were going to discuss a property deal," he said. The police suspect that a property deal, worth Rs7-8 crore, gone wrong could be the motive behind the murders. Sources said the police had found cash at the farm house.