Local News

Husband Charged in Woman's Slaying

Posted February 11, 2008 10:13 p.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2008 5:23 a.m. EST

— Cary police Monday night charged Harish Purushottamdas Patel, 60, with murder in the death of his estranged wife, whose burned body was found in Virginia last month.

“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.”

Police took Patel, of 1128 Woodway Bluff Circle, to the Wake County Public Safety Center for processing.

Vanlata Patel, 57, was last seen Jan. 16, her son, Ashesh Patel, told WRAL. She was reported missing Jan. 18 after she failed to board a plane the previous day to Toronto.

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

On Jan. 22, medical examiners conclusively identified the charred remains as being Patel.

The Patels had been married since 1996 and had adult children from previous marriages. She filed for divorce in November.

Court records show Vanlata Patel had a dispute with her estranged husband over how their financial assets should be divided.

In her divorce complaint, Vanlata Patel requested a majority of more than $400,000 in Swiss bank accounts that she shared with Harish Patel, including $100,000 she claimed was a gift from her parents that she was keeping in the account for her son from a previous marriage.

Bazemore said she had talked with the victim's son and that he said he was relieved over the arrest, even if it was his stepfather that was charged.

Patel was being held without bond Monday night. His is scheduled to be in court Tuesday morning.