Patel arrested, charged with wife's murder

February 12, 2008 4:24:32 AM PST
The Town of Cary Police Department has arrested Harish Purushottamdas Patel, 60, of Cary for the murder of his estranged wife, Vanlata Patel, 57, whose charred remains were found on January 16 just off I-85 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

Patel has been charged with felony murder, a class A felony punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. Patel has been taken to the Wake County Public Safety Center for processing.

"As sad as this case is, we are pleased to have been able to bring it to such a swift and certain conclusion, ," said Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore. "It's important for our citizens to know that this was not a random act of violence against someone in our community."

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 conclusively identified on January 22 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, VA Sheriff's Office contacted the Cary Police Department about a possible connection between the two incidents after seeing the story on area media outlets.

The Patels had been married since 1996 and had adult children from previous marriages. "I'm very proud of the work of our department and the great cooperation and support we received from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, the City County Bureau of Identification, and the Wake County District Attorney's Office," said Bazemore.

With charges now having been filed and a suspect in custody, Cary Police are referring additional questions about the case to the Wake County District Attorney's Office.


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