CHULA VISTA, Calif. (CNS) - 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 39-year-old May "Maya" Millete, the mother of his three children, in January, after she sought a divorce.
Millete was arrested Tuesday and remains held without bail. During his brief arraignment at the courthouse in Chula Vista, his attorney, Bonita Martinez, did not argue to lower bail, though a hearing regarding his bail status was set for Nov. 4.
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."
SPECIAL SECTION: The Search for Maya Millete
Maya 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 Maya 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 "spellcasters," through which he hoped magic could be used to convince his wife to stay in the relationship.
Later, he allegedly sought for the spellcasters 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 affidavit 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 2020. These messages escalated to daily contacts between September and January, the document states.
According to the affidavit, 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 emails to spellcasters 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 affidavit alleges that Millete's "messaging campaign begging for help to prevent May from leaving the marriage" abruptly halted after Jan. 8.
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 Maya 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 with ABC 10News 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 Maya 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 Maya Millete is still alive, noting a complete lack of cell phone or bank activity following the night of her disappearance. The arrest warrant affidavit 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 Maya'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."
TIMELINE IN MAYA MILLETE CASE: