Maya Millete
May “Maya” Millete. Photo via @HelpFindMay Facebook

The husband of a Chula Vista woman who remains missing more than nine months after disappearing from her home pleaded not guilty Thursday to her murder.

Larry Millete, 40, is accused of killing May “Maya” Millete, the mother of his three children, in January, after she sought a divorce.

Police arrested Millete, who is charged with murder and illegally possessing an assault weapon, Tuesday. He is being held without bail.

During his brief arraignment at the courthouse in Chula Vista, his attorney, Bonita Martinez, did not argue for bail, though a hearing regarding his status was set for Nov. 4.

Meanwhile, May Millete’s family plans a prayer vigil at 6 p.m. Friday at San Miguel Park in Chula Vista, according to the “Help Find Maya” Facebook page. There is also a volunteer search planned for 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Anza Borrego Desert State Park in Julian.

During a news conference announcing the arrest, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan unequivocally accused the suspect of killing his 39-year-old 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 her last-known sighting. 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 her disappearance.

The family worked to keep the spotlight on May Millete as the search for her continued, celebrating her 40th birthday without her in May. As the weeks and months wore on, police served multiple search warrants at her home.

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.” He hoped magic could be used to convince his wife to stay in the relationship.

Later, his intentions allegedly became darker as he urged the spell casters to incapacitate his wife so she could not leave him. Stephan said the statemenst pointed to his “homicidal ideations to harm May.”

An arrest warrant declaration filed this week states that Millete began in May of 2020 to send hundreds of emails to companies that “purport to be psychics, spirit channelers, and/or white light practitioners capable of ‘energy work.”‘

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 with a request that any hexes on May be removed.

At 6 a.m. on Jan. 8, a security camera captured images of Larry Millete backing the couple’s black Lexus GX460 into his garage, according to Stephan. She explained that 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. She added that Millete left his cell phone behind at home, preventing authorities from tracking his movements.

While Stephan did not definitively state how she believed May Millete died, she said a neighbor’s security camera recorded nine loud banging sounds just before 10 p.m. the night of her disappearance.

However, it could not be confirmed whether the noises on the video were gunshots.

Though the suspect 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. They also hope a witness may offer clues to 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.

In court documents from various legal proceedings related to the case, 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, 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.”

City News Service