CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Her photos have been posted in storefront windows, and rallies and searches have scoured San Diego County and beyond. Yet the whereabouts of Chula Vista mom Maya “May” Millete remain unknown, even as loved ones mark one year since her disappearance.
After a nine-month investigation, Chula Vista police arrested and charged Millete’s husband, Larry Millete, with murder and illegal possession of an assault weapon. He denies both charges.
If convicted, Larry faces life in prison, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
The case has garnered national attention due in large part to Maya’s family’s holding regular public events as well as the efforts of online sleuths mining for any shred of available information and bi-weekly updates posted by police into their search efforts.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Chula Vista Police Department at 619-691-5139 or San Diego Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477.
Here’s a timeline of events in Millete’s disappearance:
Background: Maya, who also goes by May, was born May 1, 1981, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by Chula Vista police which details the family’s history. She has five siblings and both of her parents are living. At the age of 19, she married Larry in a ceremony held May 12, 2000 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Larry was 18 at the time of their wedding. They have three children together.
As of June 21, 2020, Maya was employed by the U.S. Department of Defense as an administrative specialist at Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific in San Diego. Police have learned that Maya “excelled” in her work and “was committed to her career.” Prior to that, she worked as a supervisor contract specialist at Southwest Regional Maintenance Center San Diego.
Larry most recently worked as an optician at Naval Medical Training Center San Diego.
Investigators say they learned the couple had been having marital issues dating back at least a year, including a report that Larry had once allegedly “choked May until she passed out” and that Larry discovered Maya had an affair. In the days prior to her disappearance, police allege Maya was taking steps to divorce Larry and that he had “an overwhelming motive” to prevent that from happening.
Reviews of Larry’s internet history in the months leading up to his wife vanishing shows he sent “hundreds” of emails to so-called spellcasters requesting they make Maya fall back in love with him or for them to incapacitate her so she would have to “depend” on him, the affidavit shows.
He did not direct any further “hexes” toward Maya or ask for help remedying their marriage after Jan. 9, police allege.
Jan. 7, 2021: The date Maya, who was 39, last was seen near her home in the 2400 block of Paseo Los Gatos in Chula Vista. Family said at the time it was possible she may have gone hiking in the canyon behind the property. Her car remained in the driveway and her phone was reported as being off.
Larry later told FOX 5 he initially thought she left to have some alone time, but that as time passed, “It’s very unlikely that that’s it, because she wouldn’t be gone this long.”
Detectives reported that on this day, surveillance footage captured Maya parking her Jeep Rubicon on the street in front of her home at 4:42 p.m. No footage was ever found of her leaving the residence, police say.
A police review of Maya’s communications revealed that Maya had told a friend Jan. 6 that she’d informed Larry of her intention to file for divorce “whether he likes it or not.”
“I’m done trying to make it amicable for the sake of the kids,” she wrote in the message.
Detectives learned Maya and Larry had an argument on the evening of Jan. 7, according to the affidavit. Maya’s last known communication came at 8:15 p.m. when she shared an ad for a toy hauler with family through Facebook Messenger. Her phone activity stopped about 1:25 a.m. the following day, the affidavit shows.
Jan. 8: This date marked the third consecutive day Larry was reported as being “unexpectedly absent” from work.” Messages from Larry’s father and boss reviewed by police show that they were reaching out to him concerned because they hadn’t heard from him.
“This is not like him to miss work,” Larry’s boss said in a message to Maya. “It has been a few days.”
The affidavit details what police investigators believe Larry was doing that day.
He told police that he left the house at 6:45 a.m. to take his 4-year-old son to Solana Beach in order to give Maya some space. Surveillance footage reviewed by police shows that at 5:58 a.m., Larry moved his Lexus GX460, which had been backed up into the driveway, and repositioned it “at an angle” while backing it up into the garage, the affidavit shows. The way he parked, the Lexus did not allow detectives to see into it on the surveillance video.
The Lexus is seen leaving the house at 6:45 a.m. and returning at 6:06 p.m., according to police.
The affidavit alleges that when police asked Larry to point on a map to where he spent the day, he pointed to Torrey Pines State Beach, located about 4 miles away from Solana Beach.
They’re unable to confirm Larry’s whereabouts on the day. Records obtained by police show Larry’s phone was off until 6:34 p.m., a gap in time they’ve said is “historically uncharacteristic.” Contents of the vehicle’s infotainment system also detailed a navigation event at 3:29 p.m. for Larry’s home address.
Maya’s brother went to the family’s East Chula Vista home at 6:30 p.m. to check on her, according to police. There, he met with his 9-year-old niece, who told him that Maya had been up in her room for the past 11 hours and that the children had not been fed, the affidavit shows. According to police, Maya’s brother went inside the home and knocked on her door, but never heard an answer from her.
Her brother told police that he’d spoken to Larry that night and that Larry said he’d been working all day and could not account for Maya’s whereabouts, according to the affidavit.
Jan. 9: On this date, Maya Millete was reported missing by her sister Maricris Drouaillet at 11:50 p.m.
The call came after Maya’s family was growing concerned because they hadn’t heard from her since Jan. 7. They had had plans to celebrate Larry and Maya’s daughter’s 11th birthday on Jan. 10 in Big Bear and they found it “uncharacteristic of May not to be in contact with her family,” the affidavit reads.
Jan. 13: Dozens of friends, family members and volunteers search for Millete at Mount San Miguel Park, a short distance from the Millete family home. Larry, who stayed home with their children, said in a phone interview that he was trying to “keep everything as normal as I can for the kids.”
“I know to them it seems like everything is fine, but I know it’s impacting them a little bit,” he said.
Chula Vista police say they’ve never been called to the family’s home before and have no reason to believe a crime has been committed.
Jan. 21: Friends and family hold a virtual night of prayer for Millete. Larry was not in attendance, but police say he was being cooperative with the investigation.
“For the people who are printing out the flyers, helping us pass them out, going on those searches: thank you for giving us the strength and sending all those people to help us,” Millete’s niece Mikah Tabalanza said.
Jan. 23: Police served a search warrant at the family’s home in an effort “to obtain any evidence and clues to her current whereabouts.” It remains unclear if investigators found anything helpful during the search.
Feb. 3: Chula Vista police announce that Larry had retained an attorney and no longer was answering police questions. He was cooperating with the investigation up until that date, police say.
Feb. 5: In an emotional news conference held outside the Chula Vista Police Department, Millete’s family and city officials asked for the public’s help in the search. Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said investigators had interviewed dozens of Millete’s friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers, but released no additional information citing the ongoing investigation.
“Someone out there knows something,” Kennedy said, soliciting tips from anyone, either directly or anonymously.
Maricris Drouaillet thanked reporters and the community for its support. Fighting through tears, she asked the public for more help in finding Millete.
“Her kids — they need their mom,” Drouaillet said. “Please, help us find my sister. Anyone out there, if you have any information at all, please help me, help us find my sister.”
Feb. 14-15: The search for Millete extended out of the South Bay to the Glamis sand dunes in Imperial County near the state’s border with Arizona. The dunes are one of the last known spots where Millete was seen alive on New Year’s Eve and it was one of her favorite places to visit, according to family.
Despite the family receiving support from a helicopter in the area, the search yielded few results.
Feb. 23: A new billboard on Millete’s disappearance goes up on Main Street between Hilltop Drive and 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista. The sign features two photos of Millete, the contact number for Chula Vista police as well as a Facebook page and email address to reach out with tips.
It was donated by the advertising company Lamar after they were approached by Amber Patterson, a member of a Facebook group dedicated to finding Millete.
“Maybe somebody will see it and will know where she is,” Patterson said. “Having her face up there and having everybody see it brings light to the story and what’s happening.”
Feb. 26: Private investigator Bill Garcia joins the search for Maya, working for five days at no cost to the family. Garcia, a California-licensed private investigator who lives in Tahoe, said he started getting involved “when people started asking me why I wasn’t involved.”
“Families who have a loved one disappear, they’re devastated,” he said. “They get destroyed over time and I didn’t want that to happen.”
March 14: About 150 volunteers scour Lower Otay Lakes by foot and with the assistance of drones and boats. Search organizer Liliana Burke told FOX 5 that, “Nothing is being left unturned.”
March 28: Maricris Drouaillet, Maya’s sister, tells FOX 5 that Millete set up an appointment with a lawyer to start the divorce process on the same day she went missing and had asked her for $10,000 that same week. She was scheduled to meet the lawyer Jan. 12, but never arrived.
“According to the divorce lawyer, she wanted to have the birthday celebration first, her daughter’s birthday celebration was on Sunday, so she wanted to wait,” Drouaillet said.
Larry declined a reporter’s request for comment about Drouaillet’s statement.
April 6: A story on Maya Millete’s disappearance is featured on “Good Morning America.” Maricris Drouaillet tells reporter Matt Gutman that Maya and Larry were having marital issues. While Larry was attempting to work through the issues, Maya was “done” with the marriage,” Drouaillet said.
Larry did not appear in the story, but thanked Gutman for spreading awareness of the case.
April 7: Chula Vista police released the first of a new bi-weekly series of updates on the Millete case. In it, the department vowed to “continue to actively and continuously investigate” Millete’s disappearance, and reported:
- Forty-seven family members, friends, neighbors and witnesses were interviewed;
- Twelve search warrants were written, including for residences, vehicles, cell phones and electronic devices, call detail records, financial records, social media and cloud data; and
- More than 40 tips were reviewed on Millete’s location and reason for her disappearance.
April 11: A new audio recording shared with FOX 5 raises questions after several loud bangs, which sound similar to gunshots, can be heard near at around 10 p.m. on Jan. 7 near the Millete property. It was recorded by a neighbor, who requested anonymity.
They found the recording as they were combing through footage after their camera picked up the sounds of children playing outside about a half hour after the bangs were heard.
April 12: Richard and Maricris Drouaillet appear on “Dr. Phil” to discuss details of the case. Maricris said they hadn’t communicated with Larry for “quite some time,” and that he’d stopped their three children from speaking to other members of the family.
“For him to turn his back on family overnight and not want to talk to us, it’s very suspicious,” Richard Drouaillet said on the show.
April 21: In their bi-weekly update, Chula Vista police say they are aware of the recording with several loud bangs near the Millete residence. According to police, the recording was being analyzed to determine if the sounds were gunshots, while also noting the department did not receive any reports from that night about gunshots in the area.
The department also reported:
- The creation of a multi-agency working group which includes the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI;
- Eight more interviews conducted by the department (55 total); and
- Four additional search warrants written (16 total).
May 1: Family and friends celebrate Maya’s 40th birthday at Fiesta Island Park. Larry and their three children did not attend the event.
May 4: The latest update from Chula Vista police notes the department has begun work with Josephine Wentzel and the Cold Case Foundation “to provide advocacy to May’s family in conjunction with our investigation.” They also reported:
- One more interview had been conducted (56 total);
- Seven additional search warrants were written (23 total); and
- More than 55 tips now had been reviewed, including recent ones that said Millete possibly had been spotted in New Mexico and Wisconsin.
The update came the same day about 100 people gathered on the steps of Chula Vista City Hall to push city leaders to get behind the search for Millete.
“It’s been four months. May didn’t just get up and walk away, away from her kids, away from her family,” Richard Drouaillet said. “Somebody did this to her.”
May 7: Investigators served another search warrant at the Millete family home in Chula Vista. They spent nearly seven hours at the property as friends, neighbors and members of the news media gathered outside. The couple’s three children were home when police arrived.
Police have not shared anything publicly about the search, but investigators were observed hauling boxes out of the house and placing them into a white evidence van before leaving.
Arriving after the search had begun, Maricris and Richard Drouaillet said they were searching for “closure” in the case. While careful not to accuse Larry in Maya’s disappearance, Maricris noted that it speaks volumes to the family that he hasn’t told them that he’s not involved.
“I wish he could just come forward and tell us he has nothing to do with my sister’s disappearance,” Maricris said. “I’m still praying. I’m hoping he doesn’t have anything to do with her disappearance.”
A weekly search for Maya was conducted the following day in National City.
May 10: FOX 5 obtained a petition for a gun violence restraining order against Larry. The petition was filed May 5 by law enforcement with a detective requesting the order “to protect the public and prevent harm to the respondent or others.”
The petition shows that Larry had eight firearms registered in his name. At the time of filing, it was believed he was in possession or control of another 14 guns with unknown serial numbers, including AR-15s, shotguns and handguns.
“After a search warrant was executed at respondent’s residence, respondent told the officers that he knew they were coming for his firearms and he gave multiple firearms to his friends,” the document said. “Respondent refused to disclose the names of the people possessing respondent’s firearms.”
Investigators also included details about photos featuring the weapons and ammunition as well as one dated Jan. 9, 2020 that featured Millete’s approximately 4-year-old son “standing on the table surrounded by the same cache or legal and illegal firearms and ammunition,” according to the petition.
May 18: Millete’s family met privately with detectives in a meeting that her sister said gave loved ones renewed confidence in the direction of the investigation.
“My heart kind of lifted, a little bit, that we do have hope,” Maricris Drouaillet told FOX 5. “They have a lot of progress that they have done. They laid out on the table what they plan to do.”
While Drouaillet said there were details of the meeting that she could not share publicly, she described a general sense of relief at some of the information they got to review.
The next day, officials shared the latest statistics on their investigation, and disclosed a new location of interest: an abandoned golf course in Chula Vista, which they’d searched in recent days.
June 2: Chula Vista police released its latest update on the search to find Millete. In it, police reported:
- Five new interviews (61 total);
- 19 new search warrants were written (42 total);
- More than 85 tips now have been reviewed on Maya’s possible location and reason for disappearance. “Most recent tips have included possible sightings of May in different areas of California,” police said.
June 11: Richard and Maricris Drouaillet tell FOX 5 they’re growing frustrated after investigators reached out to team up to find Maya.
“It does feel frustrating to the family that they are just now starting to do that after five or six months of her missing,” Maricris said. “They could have done that at the beginning. Now they want to go search these areas that we told them to go search back in January, that those are important areas to search.”
June 16: In a nearly 80-page court filing, Larry argued that his treatment by police, portrayal in local media and threats from the public have created a “toxic environment” for him and his children during the nearly six months of her disappearance.
His comments were in response to the gun violence restraining orders filed against him in May.
In the document, Larry requests to have a number of the weapons returned to him. He also claims that on the day of the most recent search warrant that Chula Vista police pulled him over outside of their jurisdiction on Interstate 5 and held him for six hours.
“They refused to allow me to go home to be with my children and parents during the search and told me that they will arrest me if I will go home that very moment,” he wrote in the filings. “They also refused to allow me to speak to my lawyer. So, I was detained for six hours and was not allowed to go home until midnight. The peace officers searched my house, broke and destroyed bedroom door and walls, and left our house in chaotic and disturbing state that horrified my children, parents and me.”
He also was critical of his wife’s family and their attorney “appearing on television uttering statements implying and highly suggesting to the public and the media that I am to be blamed for her six-month long disappearance.”
“I am not responsible for her disappearance and I have fully cooperated with the police investigation,” he said.
The department also provided the latest update in the search for Maya. In it, police reported:
- Three new interviews (64 total);
- Two new search warrants written (44 total);
- Reviewed more than 93 tips on Millete’s possible location and reason for disappearance.
July 1: A third search warrant was served at the Millete family home in Chula Vista to “obtain additional evidence and clues to her current whereabouts,” police said in a news release. It is unclear what the department found during the search.
It comes a day after police updated the public on the status of the investigation. Investigators reported:
- Eight new interviews conducted (68 total);
- Eight new search warrants were written (50 total); and
- Nearly 100 tips have been reviewed for Millete’s possible location. Recent tips included possible sightings of Millete in different areas of California, police said.
July 21: During a court proceeding, Larry Millete was named a person of interest in Maya’s disappearance.
“The Chula Vista Police Department is confirming that Larry Millete is a person of interest regarding the disappearance of May ‘Maya’ Millete,” the agency wrote in a statement the next day. “Due to the sensitivity of the case and to protect the integrity of the investigation, we will not be providing additional information at this time.”
The announcement came more than six months into the investigation of Millete’s disappearance.
July 26: Documents were unsealed which shed new light into the investigation into Maya Millete’s disappearance. A gun violence restraining order shows pictures of 16 guns, including two illegal assault weapons, three pump shotguns, a rifle with a scope and five handguns laid out on a table at the home of Larry.
They also reveal a blacked-out space on top of the table which investigators describe in the report as Larry’s 4-year-old son who was standing next to the guns.
Millete responded to the day’s news in two lengthy text messages to FOX 5. In them, he says:
I pose no threat. I am a law abiding American citizen who believe(s) in our 2nd amendment rights. My rights have been violated numerous times. The photo was from 2020 when I was taking inventory as most people do. The photos were taken from my laptop not my phone during the first search, illegally seized when they did not have a warrant for my electronic devices. My children are always safe, happy and healthy despite the situation. I am finding out how questionable the justice system can be and how it can easily be manipulated by authorities in order to violate your rights. GVRO created as a witch-hunt towards gun owners to disarm anyone even by hearsay by anyone who may not like you. Warrant less warrants created to violate our 4th amendment rights which enable authorities to invade your privacy and ransack our homes. Absolutely disappointing that this happens in our country. Despite all I have endured I still believe we live in the best country on earth. Very respectfully, Larry Millete.
Also none of my firearms are unregistered or illegal. All registered and serialized. I recently found out that they are able to hold vehicles indefinitely. They have taken all our electronics affecting my children’s education. They have taken my firearms, thousand of rounds of ammunition and gun parts without providing me with a detailed inventory on all the searches. The lists were all hand written and vague. They basically want me disarmed with no way of defending myself or my family. Again a basic American right.Larry Millete, texts to FOX 5 on July 26, 2021
Oct. 19: After several months of light bi-weekly updates from police, investigators announced that Larry was arrested on suspicion of murder in the disappearance of his wife, Maya. He was arrested by a Chula Vista police SWAT team at 11:42 a.m. as he was alone at the family’s home. Stephan said she filed a criminal case against Larry the previous day based on evidence developed during the investigation.
In total, detectives wrote more than 67 search warrants, conducted 87 interviews and explored more than 130 tips over the course of the nine-month investigation, Kennedy said.
Although Maya’s body remains missing, Stephan said in a joint 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.
It was an emotionally charged news conference featuring Stephan, Kennedy and Maricris and Richard Drouaillet. Fighting back tears, Maricris said that the family aspect of Larry’s arrest was “really hard” for her to grasp.
“It’s hard to go against family,” she said. “He’s been with us for 20 years. My sister did love him. She gave him three kids.”
She also promised Maya’s 11-year-old that “we would bring her mom home.”
“This is still not the end,” she said. “We still have a long way to go. I just want to see my sister. I still want her to come home to us. Please, if you know anything at all, please help us.”
Oct. 21: Larry appears in court for the first time and formally denied murdering his wife. Wearing a blue jumpsuit and mask, Larry was mostly silent as his lawyer, Bonita Martinez, addressed a judge at the San Diego Superior Court building in Chula Vista.
Oct. 27: Back in court, Judge Maryann D’Addedzio restricted Larry’s phone privileges after saying he’d amassed hours of calls despite being ordered not to do so. A prosecutor alleged Larry had made 129 calls since being arrested, including at least nine hours of calls to his children.
Martinez argued that her client hadn’t understood the court order not to contact them.
“At the last hearing, out of deference to your attorney who didn’t want your children’s names read in court, the court specifically asked … whether you were aware that the orders that I was going to read applied to the protective parties listed on the document — who were your three children,” D’Addedzio said. “I don’t for a minute believe you didn’t understand who I was talking about.”
D’Addedzio ultimately ruled that Larry now only would be allowed to contact his attorney by phone.
Nov. 4: Larry Millete’s request for release on bail was denied by D’Addedzio.
The judge said there’s “clear and convincing evidence that he’s threatened to commit grave bodily injury.”
“And there’s a substantial likelihood he would carry out that threat if released,” D’Addedzio said. “Additionally, there’s clear and convincing evidence that he’s a danger to the community.”
The ruling came despite Martinez arguing that her client posed no flight risk or risk of harming others. She emphasized Larry’s military service and his job as an optician at the Naval Medical Training Center. Larry also was willing to wear a tracking bracelet and travel only to and from work, Martinez said.
Jan. 9, 2022: Family members and other loved ones marked one year since Maya was reported missing.
At a prayer vigil held the evening before this significant date, an old recording was played of the missing Chula Vista mother singing, candles were lit and balloons in her favorite color were released as gatherers sang along, holding one another.
“Just pray for an answer,” Maya’s sister Maricris Drouaillet said. “We still need help finding my sister and I think that’s what we still want to bring awareness to the community that we still need the public’s help.”
Feb. 28: Larry Millete appeared in court for a short readiness hearing along with Martinez. He is slated to return to court May 12 for a readiness hearing after Martinez requested more time to prepare.
May: The parents of Larry Millete sued Chula Vista police and the City of Chula Vista over what they say was “inappropriate” treatment towards them.
Sep. 27: A psychiatrist found Larry Millete mentally competent to stand trial, allowing the criminal case against him to move forward.
Jan. 7, 2023: Two years to the day after Maya was last seen, dozens of family members, friends, community leaders and even people who didn’t know Maya gathered to hike in her honor. Maya’s sister led the group on her favorite hike through Mount San Miguel Park.
Jan. 11: Larry Millete’s preliminary hearing began in a downtown San Diego courtroom.
Jan. 25: On the 10th day of the preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that Larry Millete will stand trial.