SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A vigil for Maya Millete was held Friday at San Miguel Park at 6 p.m. in Chula Vista. Maya's friends and family say that now they have one goal - to bring her home and properly lay her to rest.
Maya's husband, Larry Millete, was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife on Tuesday. On Thursday, he appeared in front of a judge and entered a plea of not guilty on charges of first-degree murder and weapons possession.
Members of Maya’s family attended the hearing. At the hearing, Larry only spoke to his attorney and to answer a question from the judge confirming he was waiving his right to a speedy trial.
During a news conference announcing the arrest, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan unequivocally accused the suspect of killing his wife but acknowledged that "there's going to be questions" about his arrest and prosecution due to the fact that the victim's body is still missing.
The county's top prosecutor said California law allows for the filing of murder charges even when the victim's body has not been found, saying "the law is so crystal-clear that we cannot let someone murder someone and gain a benefit by hiding the body in a way that we can't recover it."
May Millete's sister reported her missing Jan. 9, two days after the last known sighting of her. Her family insisted that her absence was highly suspicious, telling news crews she would never leave her three children, ages 4, 9 and 11, or voluntarily miss her eldest daughter's birthday, which was days after the woman's disappearance.
The motive for the alleged slaying, according to the district attorney, was May Millete's decision, "for many reasons," to leave her husband. On Jan. 7, she contacted a divorce attorney to schedule a meeting to begin the dissolution proceedings, and investigators believe that her husband killed her that evening, after it became clear that she fully intended to end their marriage.
According to Stephan, as their marriage unraveled, Millete went as far as employing the services of "spell casters," through which he hoped magic could be used to convince his wife to stay in the relationship.
Later, he allegedly sought for the spell casters to render his wife incapacitated so she could not leave the home, which Stephan said pointed to his "homicidal ideations to harm May."
An arrest warrant declaration filed this week states that Millete began sending hundreds of emails to companies that "purport to be psychics, spirit channelers, and/or white light practitioners capable of `energy work"' starting in May of 2020. These messages escalated to daily contacts between September and January, the document states.
According to the declaration, one message sent on Dec. 31 states, "Can you hex to have her hurt enough that she will have to depend on me and need my help. She's only nice to me when she needs me or sick. Thanks again. Maybe an accident or broken bone."
Police allege that on Jan. 7, when his wife contacted the divorce attorney, Millete's messages to spell casters indicated he was "frantic to reverse May's decision to file for divorce." One message read, "I'm shaking inside ready to snap," while another read, "make her realize that we are meant to be with each other. Make her miserable without me. Make her want to sleep on the same bed for all eternity."
The declaration alleges that Millete's "messaging campaign begging for help to prevent May from leaving the marriage" abruptly halted after Jan. 8, save for one message on Jan. 9 that requested for any hexes on May to be removed.
About 6 that morning, a security camera captured images of Larry Millete backing the couple's black Lexus GX460 into his garage, according to Stephan, who said the angle of the camera could not capture "whether a body was put in the back of the Lexus or not."
A short time later, the suspect drove off and did not return for more than 11 hours, according to Stephan, who said Millete left his cell phone behind at home, preventing any ability to track his movements.
When later asked by detectives where he went that day, he claimed that he took his youngest child on an outing to Solana Beach. When asked to show investigators on a map the spot that he and the youngster visited, the suspect pointed out a beach in the Torrey Pines area, miles to the south of the area where he supposedly spent the day, according to Stephan.
While authorities did not definitively state how they believed May Millete died, Stephan said a neighbor's security camera recorded nine loud banging sounds on the night of her disappearance, just before 10 p.m.. However, it could not be confirmed whether the noises on the video were gunshots.
Though Millete was ordered by a court to surrender all firearms in his possession earlier this year, one of his guns -- a Smith and Wesson .40- caliber handgun -- remains missing.
Stephan said investigators are seeking information from the public related to the whereabouts of that gun, as well as the movements of the Lexus GX460 -- which bears the license plate "Maylani" -- on Jan. 8, when investigators believe he disposed of his wife's body.
Larry Millete has largely declined to address the media regarding his wife's disappearance, though he did speak briefly to 10News San Diego by phone a few days after she was reported missing.
During the roughly 10-minute interview, he acknowledged that his marriage had been troubled for about a year, stated that he had no idea where his spouse was, expressed hope that she had simply gone away temporarily for some "alone time" and described himself as "really worried and shaken" by her disappearance.
In court documents from various adjacent legal proceedings, including a gun violence restraining order served on Millete, he has stated a belief that May voluntarily left the family and is still alive. In a declaration responding to the GVRO, Millete wrote, "It is our continuing prayer that my wife will come home."
Stephan said, however, there is no indication that May Millete is still alive, noting a complete lack of cell phone or bank activity following the night of her disappearance. The arrest warrant declaration states that despite the international media attention the case has garnered, "there have been no credible sightings of May Millete since she was last seen on January 7, 2021."
Stephan and Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said authorities remain committed to finding May's body, and urged anyone who might be able to help to report what they know.
Kennedy said Millete's arrest "does not mark the end of our investigation. The Chula Vista Police Department will continue to seek answers for May's family."
The district attorneys office says the evidence collected so far is mostly circumstantial as opposed to any physical evidence. But they believe it is enough to prove Larry killed Maya.
Volunteers who have spent the last nine months searching for Maya were also in attendance at that arraignment Thursday. Maya's body still has not been found. They have another search effort planned for Saturday.
Larry is being held without bail in the meantime while the three Millete kids stay with his parents. His next bail review is scheduled for Nov. 4.
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