Police Ask if Va. Body, Missing Cary Woman Are Linked
Posted January 22, 2008 4:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2008 3:40 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — Could the case of a missing Cary woman be connected to a mystery in Virginia?
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office in Virginia said Tuesday it did contact Cary police after authorities there discovered a female body last Wednesday while battling a brush fire along Interstate 85.
Vanlata Patel, 57, was last seen Wednesday, her son, Ashesh Patel, told WRAL. She was reported missing Friday after she failed to board a plane Thursday to Toronto, where she was supposed to visit him.
Police said Tuesday they have been in contact with numerous law enforcement agencies about Patel's disappearance but would not say if they believe the Virginia case is related.
Authorities are conducting DNA tests, but there is no confirmation that the two cases are connected.
Meanwhile, Patel's estranged husband, Hatish Patel, said Tuesday he is awaiting answers about what might have happened to her.
"As far as I'm concerned, she's just gone off," he said. "Because she's done like this before."
Patel said investigators have visited his apartment several times since her disappearance asking about whether she left any personal belongings, including a passport and comforter, there. Police said Vanlata Patel's car was found at her estranged husband's apartment complex.
The two separated in September 2007 and had been staying in Canada. She was back in town this month, Patel said, for a hearing to divide their marital assets.
"When she came back, I immediately tried to contact her, see her," he said. "She immediately called her lawyer. They said if I did not leave from there, they would call the cops, so I left."
Patel said he last saw his estranged wife on Jan. 13, when they met at a local mall with a mutual friend.
"I said I am ready to do anything and everything in order to get you back," he said. "But I think she doesn't want to come back, for whatever reason."
Patel said he is not worried about her but would like to know that she is OK.
"I love her, and I want her to be happy – no matter where she is," he said.
Anyone who has seen Vanlata Patel or have information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Cary Police Department at 919-469-4012.