New details revealed about Patel murder

February 23, 2008 12:49:20 PM PST
Eyewitness News has exclusive new details about the murder of a Cary woman.

New search warrants reveal Vanlata Patel was killed and tied up in a blanket before being set on fire along the side of I-85.

Her estranged husband, Harish Patel, is accused of the killing.

The first big revelation in the search warrants for Harish Patel's Cary apartment is alleged domestic violence. The Patels once lived together in the home.

According to a police affidavit, "Vanlata had disclosed physical and mental abuse to various family members and friends." It also states that "Harish had made threatening statements to Vanlata and numerous friends and family members."

"I have nothing to hide," Patel said in a January 22nd interview with Eyewitness News.

He made that comment just hours before his estranged wife's body was identified and after Cary Police had searched his apartment and car.

"It looks like I am the suspect," Patel said, "and that's a very disturbing thing."

Since his arrest, Patel said he had not seen his estranged wife since January 12 when they went to dinner with a friend.

At that dinner, according to search warrants, the two agreed to settle their divorce outside of court by splitting up their property.

But Friday, the search warrants revealed that investigators believe Vanlata was at Harish's apartment on "January 16, 2008 -- the date that she was last seen, for the purpose of obtaining these property items."

Investigators say that was the night Vanlata was killed before her burning body was found on the side of I-85, just across the Virginia line.

The warrant states that, "interlaced in the descendent's body, clothing and blanket/comforter was a section of rope."

A week later Patel said, "I still love her, and I want her to be happy wherever she is."

The warrant doesn't indicate a possible motive, but the couple's divorce documents indicated they were having a dispute over hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Swiss bank account.

Vanlata Patel's body was burned so bad a cause of death couldn't be determined.

Search warrants indicate one unusual item taken from Harish Patel's home -- a waffle iron.

Also on the list is an empty can of carpet cleaner.


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