Litigant accused in strangulation demise of suburban Chicago lawyer lands on most-wanted checklist

John Panaligan mugshot

Criminal justice

A defendant wanted on the US Marshals Service’s 15 Most Wanted List for the strangulation death of a lawyer in suburban Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois.

The fugitive is John Panaligan, 54, who, according to a November 23 press release, is wanted in the December 2016 murder of 36-year-old attorney Victor Jigar Patel. A prize of $ 25,000 will be offered for information leading to his arrest.

The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press report.

Panaligan was a defendant in a lawsuit involving his company. Vital Wellness Home Health Inc. Patel represented the plaintiffs. Panaligan lost an appeal in the case shortly before the murder, according to previous reports.

Panaligan and other defendants were convicted of non-compliance with the discovery in the case in a September 2016 decision.

Police believe Panaligan made an appointment to see Patel under a pseudonym. He allegedly arrived at the building in disguise and then killed Patel in his office.

Two days after the murder, Panaligan was arrested on the Canadian border for allegedly smuggling a firearm into Canada. When he was allowed to return to the United States, he was interviewed by police in Northbrook, Illinois. Following the execution of search warrants, authorities concluded that Panaligan was the prime suspect in the case.

Panaligan fled to Mexico before he could be arrested. An arrest warrant was issued in February 2017. He has dual citizenship in the US and the Philippines and “authorities think he could be anywhere,” the press release said.