Local News

Va. Body Is Cary Woman; Murder Probe Under Way

The charred remains found last week by firefighters battling a brush fire in Mecklenburg County, Va., were identified Tuesday as those of a missing Cary woman.

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CARY, N.C. — Charred remains that firefighters found while battling a brush fire in Mecklenburg County, Va., last week are those of a missing Cary woman, authorities said Tuesday.

Vanlata Patel, 57, was last seen Jan. 16, 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.

A DNA match made Tuesday identified the remains, and although the cause of Patel's death has not been released, investigators said in a news release that they are treating her death as a homicide.

“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 (in the news release) in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Capt. David Wulff said.

According to Mecklenburg County authorities, Patel's body was found about 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 wrapped in a comforter at the center of the brush fire. It was about 20 feet off an embankment along Interstate 85's mile marker 19.

“Our prayers are with Mrs. Patel’s family and friends during this very sad and difficult time,” Wulff said. “No resource is being spared as we work collaboratively with Mecklenburg County and numerous other law enforcement agencies to solve this horrific crime.”

Patel's family members had no comment and said they did not plan on speaking publicly until after an arrest.

Investigators still ask that anyone with information about Patel's death to call the Cary Police Department at 919-469-4012.