Her charred remains were found when firefighters responded to a report of a brush fire in a wooded area just off I-85 near mile marker 19 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.
While neither the cause of her death nor the location of her murder has been identified, officials are treating the incident as a homicide. Patel has been missing since Wednesday, January 16, 2008.
"Our prayers are with Mrs. Patel's family and friends during this very sad and difficult time," said Captain Dave Wulff of the Cary Police Department. "No resource is being spared as we work collaboratively with Mecklenburg County and numerous other law enforcement agencies to solve this horrific crime."
At around 2:30 p.m. on January 16, the South Hill Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a brush fire near I-85's mile marker 19.
Once the fire was extinguished, crews found the remains of an unknown woman who was today conclusively identified by Virginia medical examiners as Mrs. Patel.
Mrs. Patel's son reported her missing to the Cary Police Department on January 17 after she failed to board a flight to visit him in Canada.
Police issued a news release about Mrs. Patel's disappearance and on January 20 the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office contacted the Cary Police Department about a possible connection between the two incidents after seeing the story on area media outlets.
"While we know that there's a tremendous amount of interest in any and all details surrounding this case, we are not in a position at this time to offer any information beyond what's included here in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation," Wulff added.
If you have information, contact Crime Stoppers at (919) 226-CRIM(E) or contact Sgt. Randy Byrd at (919) 319-4513.