Timeline: The disappearance of Chula Vista mom Maya Millete

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Her photos have been posted in storefront windows, and rallies and searches have scoured San Diego County and beyond. But the whereabouts of Chula Vista mom Maya Millete, who has been missing since early January, remain unknown.

The case has garnered national attention. Millete, a mother of three, is described as 5 feet, 2 inches tall. She is an Asian woman who weighs about 110 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

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:

Jan. 7, 2021: The date Millete, 40, last was seen at about 5 p.m. 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.

Chula Vista resident Larry Millete. (Photo courtesy of Maricris Drouaillet)

Her husband, Larry Millete, 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.”

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 Millete 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 Millete 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.

A billboard went up Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 on Main Street between Hilltop Drive and 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista, Calif. in an effort to generate any new leads on missing Chula Vista wife and mother Maya “May” Millete.

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.”

Bill Garcia, a private investigator who lives in Tahoe, Calif., joined the search for Millete for five days starting in February at no cost to the family.

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 Millete 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.

Chula Vista police on Friday afternoon served another search warrant at the family home of Maya Millete, who has been missing for four months.

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 Millete. 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 Millete 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.

In a nearly 80-page court filing, Larry Millete 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.

“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.

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