CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The husband of missing Chula Vista mother Maya Millete was back in court Monday.
Larry Millete, 40, appeared with attorney Bonita Martinez for a readiness hearing at the South Bay Courthouse in Chula Vista. Millete, who was arrested and charged last fall in his wife’s murder, will return to court May 12 for a readiness hearing after Martinez requested more time to prepare.
A preliminary examination for Millete also has been set for June 27.
A Chula Vista police SWAT team arrested Millete Oct. 19 as he was alone at the family’s home on Paseo Los Gatos in Chula Vista. He was booked into jail on two felony counts: a murder charge and illegal possession of an assault weapon.
Millete denies both charges with his attorney stating in November, “We believe she is still alive.”
“His wife was used to leaving the house in the past, and this disappearance today – doesn’t mean she is dead,” Martinez said. “You can’t rule out that she is alive … because there is no dead body.”
His arrest came following a grueling nine-month search for Maya, the mother of three not seen since Jan. 7, 2021 near the family’s home. Her last known communication came at 8:15 p.m. that day when she sent an ad for a toy hauler to family through Facebook Messenger, an arrest warrant affidavit filed by Chula Vista police shows. Her phone’s activity stopped about 1:25 p.m. the following day, the affidavit reads.
She was reported missing two days later by her sister Maricris Drouaillet amid growing concerns that they hadn’t heard from her with Maya’s daughter’s 11th birthday celebration in Big Bear looming that weekend, according to the affidavit.
A detective working in CVPD’s Crimes of Violence Unit wrote that Larry Millete was in a “desperate, frantic, unbalanced mindset” in the time leading up to his wife’s disappearance. The account focuses on the idea that their marriage had been fraying dating back to September 2020 and that Larry had grown “increasingly paranoid,” including contacting so-called “spellcasters” to make Maya want to stay in the marriage.
Drouaillet and husband Richard Drouaillet have led the search effort to find Maya, scouring the South Bay and elsewhere in San Diego County as well as hosting regular prayer sessions for her.
Despite Maya’s body never being found, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in an October news conference that the law is “very clear” about filing murder charges in the absence of a body.
“In fact, there is case law that we will be using in this case that makes it even more clear that a missing body is circumstantial evidence that there was foul play and that it’s a murder, because somebody who takes their own life cannot hide their own body,” Stephan said.
If convicted, Larry Millete could face 25 years to life in prison.
FOX 5’s Matt Meyer and Christy Simeral contributed to this report.