Local News

Police Search Patel's Computer for Evidence in Wife's Death

Posted March 7, 2008 2:26 p.m. EST
Updated June 2, 2008 4:29 p.m. EDT

— Police searched the home computer of a Cary man suspected of killing his wife, looking for deleted or hidden data that might be related to the crime.

Cary Police Friday released the search warrant for the Dell desktop computer, CDs and floppy disks seized from Harish Patel's home.

In seeking the warrant, investigators said they would examine the contents of directories and files and perform keyword searches for evidence linking the computer to the death of Vanlata Patel.

Specifically, the warrant listed:

  • Financial documents and financial inquires
  • Files relating to news coverage of the death of Vanlata Patel
  • Files relating to methods of commiting murder
  • Files relating to methods of disposing of a body
  • Files indicating travel, including maps

Firefighters found Vanlata Patel's charred body wrapped in a comforter at the center of a brush fire along Interstate 85 in Mecklenburg County, Va., on Jan. 17.  She was unidentified at the time.

Two days later, her son reported her missing, saying she had failed to board a flight to Canada, where she had been staying with him.

Police searched Harish Patel's home and seized the computer, financial paperwork, a cooking device similar to a waffle iron called a tortilla rotimaker and an empty can of carpet stain remover, among other items.

Four days later, Patel called 911, claiming he was dying after drinking too much alcohol. When emergency crews and police arrived at his home, they found items they thought might be relevant to the death of his wife and sought another search warrant.

Patel, who was denied bond earlier this month, is in the Wake County Jail awaiting trial.