SAN DIEGO — The husband of a woman missing since January has been arrested and accused in her death, authorities said Tuesday.
Larry Millete, 40, was charged with murder and possession of a semiautomatic rifle prohibited under California's assault weapons ban, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced during an afternoon news conference.
An attorney for Millete did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
May "Maya" Millete, also 40 and the mother of the couple's three school-age children, was reported missing from her home in Eastlake, a community in the city of Chula Vista, minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Early in the investigation, Larry Millete said he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance. Some of her relatives have said they didn't believe he would harm her.
Maya Millete's sister, Maricris Drouaillet, and Drouaillet's husband, Richard, have kept pressure on Chula Vista police detectives over the months, holding media events and organizing search parties.
"They rallied around her family and helped keep May’s disappearance in the spotlight," Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said at Tuesday's news conference.
Kennedy said investigators served 67 search warrants, conducted 87 interviews, reviewed 130 tips and spent thousands of hours investigating the case. The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service assisted, she said.
Maya Millete was a civilian defense contractor at Naval Base San Diego. Her body has not been recovered.
Her husband was named a person of interest in the case in July.
If there was any one thing in the investigation that led authorities to arrest Larry Millete, it wasn't made clear: Much of the case remains sealed. "A lot of evidence will be revealed in court," Stephan said.
Stephan said that the last call Maya Millete is known to have made was to a divorce attorney on Jan. 7. She called that a "triggering event" for Larry Millete.
Stephan said Larry Millete sent a message the same day that said, "I think she wants me to snap," and "I'm shaking inside ready to snap."
Her phone activity ceased Jan. 8, Stephan said.
"Larry was trying to hold on to May and he resorted to contacting what are called 'spellcasters,' " Stephan said, referring to people who claim they can cast spells on specific targets.
Stephan said Maya Millete was ready to move on.
"She wanted to continue being a parent, and she tried to negotiate that they can be parents to their children but not subject the children to a toxic relationship, but Larry would not have it," Stephan said.