‘This did not happen on just a whim’: Private investigator who worked on case reacts to Larry Millete’s arrest

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A veteran private investigator who worked on the search for missing Chula Vista mother Maya “May” Millete argues her alleged murder was the result of an escalation in behavior by husband Larry that’s commonly seen in domestic violence cases.

But Bill Garcia told FOX 5 Tuesday that he’d hoped to hear more from investigators about the evidence that led them to arrest 40-year-old Larry Ibaretta Millete on suspicion of murder in the disappearance of Maya.

“Well, I think that the arrest is due,” Garcia said. “The more time that goes on, the more difficult matters are. I don’t know if they’ve not disclosed everything or if they have. I was hoping for more substantial evidence to be revealed. Maybe they’re holding onto some? Their actions – law enforcement’s actions – pretty much are going to dictate where they are.”

Larry was jailed without bail Tuesday on two felony counts, including a murder charge and possession of an assault weapon. His wife Maya last was seen by family Jan. 7 at her home on Paseo Los Gatos in Chula Vista and was reported missing two days later by her sister Maricris Drouaillet after not being able to get in touch with her, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.

Stephan and Chula Vista police Tuesday laid out a portion of the evidence the department compiled in the more than nine months Maya has been away and pleaded with the public for tips in several areas, including about the whereabouts of Larry’s Lexus GX460 on Jan. 8 and the location of his missing .40-caliber firearm.

Garcia said Larry’s arrest possibly could generate new leads for investigators.

“It also allows law enforcement greater access to particular things,” he said. “In our investigation, finances were really, really high on the motive list and timing and what was known and what was occurring all kind of meshed together where an escalation of the homicidal type could occur.”

Garcia added he’s believed since early on in the search for Maya that “Larry did have something to do with his wife’s disappearance.”

“We just didn’t know to what extent,” he said.

According to Stephan, Maya wanted to divorce Larry starting in 2020 “for many reasons,” but that Larry did not want the divorce. It was then when Stephen said Larry began contacting so-called “spellcasters,” first in an effort to get Maya to want to remain in the marriage and becoming more threatening by December 2020.

“He was asking for May to become incapacitated, for May to be in an accident, for her to have broken bones so she could stay home,” Stephan said, “thus displaying his homicidal ideations to harm May.”

Garcia said he was aware there was “a spiritual aspect” to the investigation.

“The fact that it escalated into what law enforcement indicated was a threatening and dangerous place is interesting,” he said. “But it all follows along to what we were told, what we were investigating, what we knew.”

The other component addressed by Garcia was about Jan. 8 when Stephan said Larry and his 4-year-old child left their home and did not return for nearly 11 and a half hours. Their other two children, ages 9 and 11, were left at home at the time, Stephan said. When asked about the trip, Larry told police he went to Solana Beach but then pointed on a map to Torrey Pines State Beach, nearly four miles away, investigators say.

Maya’s body never was recovered despite numerous searches in the community, including in various parts of San Diego County and elsewhere.

Although the young child was with Larry at the time of the trip, Garcia said he didn’t believe they would have “the type of information law enforcement would need.”

“The fact that he took that child and left the 9- and 11-year-old home coupled with him leaving his phone on the bed at home and essentially being off the grid for 11 and a half hours to go any direction, it’s why the searches have gone in different directions,” he said, adding, “If there was any other involvement, those aspects have to be learned and acted upon so they can follow up on where she may be.”

“This did not happen on just a whim,” Garcia said. “This was intentional and it took some time to calculate but it escalated over time, as it does in a lot of domestic violence cases.”

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