They’ve called on residents for help, interviewed over 1,000 locals, even roped in psychiatrists to help find the man who is raping and murdering little girls in Kurla (East).
So far, the police have turned up nothing.
Now, in the wake of a fourth case — and third murder — a team of 50 officers from across the city has been ordered to comb every shanty in the area.
Their focus will be the thickly populated Vatsalatai Nagar slum near the Eastern Express Highway, where an eight-year-old girl was found dead on Saturday.
A few patterns are emerging, police sources have said.
All the girls were abducted on Saturday evenings, around 6.30 pm. All were from slum areas in Kurla.
Two were dumped on building terraces, including the terrace of the police quarters opposite the Nehru Nagar police station.
The third victim — a nine-year-old who escaped — was also being taken to the terrace of a Kurla (East) building.
This case, in which a nine-year-old girl was molested but managed to flee from the staircase, is the only one of the four incidents in which the police have any eyewitnesses.
Based on details provided by the girl and four other witnesses, the police have drawn up a detailed sketch, which they have circulated through the area.
No suspects, however, have emerged.
The only arrest so far has been a 34-year-old drug addict and convicted thief.
Arrested in March, he was released last week because the police failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated 90 days.
He is no longer a key suspect, however, because the third case occurred while he was in custody.
Running out of options, the police have turned to local residents. Locals from the Kurla slums, most of them women, have been organised into groups and asked to go door-to-door, looking for suspicious strangers.
Suspecting that the killer has a history of mental illness and may have been treated by a mental health professional, the police have also visited numerous private and civic psychiatrists across the city.
DNA tests of 70 young locals with a criminal record have turned up nothing. Neither have interview with over 1,000 people across Kurla.
As a precautionary measure, police officers are now going from school to school, speaking in classrooms across Kurla, offering safety tips and warning children not to talk to strangers or walk away with anyone they do not know.
“It is a mysterious case that has claimed three lives so far,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police (Trombay Division) J. Khandagle, who is now assisting in the investigation. “We can’t afford to lose any more.”