This past weekend, I joined the Maya Millete search group in the Anza Borrego Desert. At 7:00 a.m. we met at the El Cajon Walmart before carpooling out to the Tamarisk Grove Campground. It has been an emotional week for the Millete family as Maya’s husband, Larry, was arrested last Tuesday and charged with her murder despite the fact Maya has still not been found. She has been missing since January 7, 2021, when she made her last call to a divorce attorney. Her three young children are left to wonder what happened to their loving mother. The question remains as it has for the last nine months: Where is Maya Millete?
News cameras were already present when I arrived at 7:00 a.m. and Maya’s sister, Maricris, and her husband, Richard, once again stood before the bank of cameras. Maricris said she hopes Larry “will have a change of heart and tell us where my sister is.” She also said, “I hope today will be the last day.” Sadly, it was not.
When I arrived at the Tamarisk Grove Campground, I was instantly struck by the vastness of the land. Despite being called a “campground,” it seemed more like open, endless desert. I spoke to Maricris, who told me they selected this location based on information they had just learned at the press conference upon Larry’s arrest.
On January 8, 2021, Larry left the house and his whereabouts were unknown. He was gone for 11 hours and 21 minutes. He was driving a black Lexus GX 460 and the navigation showed at 3:29 p.m. he typed in his home address two and a half hours from the Millete’s home. The family has now chosen to search areas two and a half hours away, beginning with the Anza Borrego Desert. Maricris told me the Tamarisk Grove Campground was a place Maya and Larry had just visited in December of 2020. She added that she has been told people return to places they are familiar with.
Back in April, I had gone on another search, that time in the Proctor Valley Nature Preserve, in Chula Vista. I was struck then, as I was on this recent search, at just how vast the land was and how daunting the search. On Saturday, as I walked in the desert sand, I said to myself, “They need a miracle to find Maya.” Maricris echoed this sentiment when she said, “It is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
But miracles do happen. In speaking to Richard, their deep faith was certainly evident. Richard told me that someone just asked him at the prayer vigil the night before if he was upset that God had not answered their prayer (which of course was to find Maya). He told me he thought about the question, but then realized God did answer their prayers as he sent all of us “angels” to search for Maya. Surely, if anyone could receive a miracle, it could be this family.
In spending the day with Maricris and Richard, I found them to be the sweetest, kindest, and most loving family. No one would want to be in their shoes, but they exhibited a grace despite their tremendous suffering. Deeply grateful for the volunteers, Maricris generously grilled up hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone. All the fixings were present, even homemade potato salad and macaroni salad. The Millete’s truck was weighted down with coolers of drinks, snacks, desserts, and the list goes on. It was fare a festive gathering is made of, and I wish it could have been a truly carefree day. However, no one lost sight of the real task at hand.
Maricris told me when they come to San Diego (they live in Moreno Valley), they do not have the funds to spend night after night in a hotel. Instead, they have been staying in their camper at a campground. Other family members drive down from Los Angeles. If anyone would like to help the Millete family, for the search efforts or to help with travel expenses, you may donate on their GoFundMe page or donate your time to the search effort.
About Aleida K. Wahn, Esq.
I am an attorney, award-winning true crime writer, and legal analyst of criminal cases. I cover criminal trials and write stories and books about compelling, gripping, and unforgettable cases that impact our world. I take you into the courtroom in high-profile murder trials, rape cases, crimes of passion, cases involving mental illness, deviant behavior, and more. I have a deep passion for true crime, criminal law, and all aspects of the criminal justice system. I have appeared as an expert on true crime shows, including “48 Hours,” “Snapped,” and “The Dead Files,” and provided legal analysis on high-profile criminal trials on Court TV, the Law & Crime Trial Network, Fox 5 News, ABC 10 News, and KUSI News. I also create and host shows with the Del Mar Television Producers Group, addressing criminal justice and social issues in recent criminal trials.
I provided my insight and legal analysis on Court TV and the Law & Crime Trial Network of the high-profile trial of former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. It was a trial that captured the nation as the heralded ex-football star with fame, fortune, and a famous name stood accused of multiple rapes and other sex crimes involving five women. As the trial delved into shocking facts, complicated legal issues, and unexpected twists and turns, I was there for every minute. After the trial, I wrote a book on the case, going behind the headlines to share the extraordinary details of what happened inside the courtroom. Judging Winslow Jr.: From NFL Star to Serial Rapist? Inside the Shocking Rape Trial of Kellen Boswell Winslow II is now available on Amazon.
I am passionate about telling true crime stories, as these penetrating stories have the power to move us all, while highlighting societal issues which need to be addressed. I have personally seen the human devastation which is present in each trial and believe there is a lesson to be learned in every single case. It is through awareness and examining critical issues society can effect change and even make new laws. To learn more, please visit: https://www.aleidalaw.com.
Read about the gripping and unforgettable trials that I have covered in my latest books: