The disappearance of beautiful May “Maya” Millete has captured national attention and fostered endless search efforts. But tragically, the heartbreaking question remains after 10 long months: Where is Maya Millete? This devoted mother of three young children has been missing since January 7, 2021. On October 19, 2021, the case once again moved into the spotlight when Maya’s husband, Larry, was arrested and charged with her murder, despite being a “no body’ case. Who could not feel for the three Millete children, who are of tender years 5, 10, and 11?
During this time of turmoil, they remained living in the family home in Chula Vista with the paternal grandparents. Since Larry is now jailed awaiting trial, Maya’s sister, Maricris Drouaillet, filed a petition in probate court for guardianship of the children. Although Maricris and her husband, Richard, reside in Moreno Valley, Maricris’ attorney, Scott Finkbeiner, told Judge Julia Kelety at a hearing on November 10, 2021, the couple will relocate to San Diego if the petition is granted. They need not move at this time, as Judge Kelety made other orders.
The November 10, 2021, Guardianship Hearing
Judge Kelety ruled the children will remain with the paternal grandparents, Benito and Judith, who she noted lived with the Millete family for 10 years prior to Maya’s disappearance. She did however grant visitation to the maternal family every Sunday from noon until 5:00 p.m. Maricris and her family have not seen the children since Maya disappeared on January 7, 2021, despite repeated requests.
Judge Kelety also ordered the paternal grandparents to obtain mental health treatment for the children immediately. Benito and Judith’s attorney, Bonita Martinez, suffered a death in her family and could not be present, so attorney Joseph Goldberg appeared in her stead. He told Judge Kelety, Benito and Judith will be filing their own petition for guardianship. A hearing on both the petitions will be heard on January 19, 2022.
Prior to hearing oral argument, Judge Kelety asked why it was in the best interests to uproot the children, who had lived their entire lives with the paternal grandparents. Why take them out of their schools and the community they knew? She said the legislative intent is for children to be raised in permanent, loving, stable environments.
Attorney Finkbeiner’s Passionate Arguments
Attorney Finkbeiner rose, and with passion and fire, said there were “extraordinary circumstances” in this case, five to be exact. First, he stated there was no legal guardian to make decisions regarding therapy, medical issues, and other important matters.
Second, he said the children have suffered emotional abuse. Larry and his parents have neglected their mental health and emotional well-being. Since Maya went missing on January 7, 2021, no therapy or mental health treatment has been provided, a “stunning revelation given the circumstances,” declared Finkbeiner. Even after Larry was arrested, there was still no treatment. He said, “These facts alone constitute neglect.”
Third, he said the paternal grandparents facilitated Larry’s emotional abuse. Larry is under a Criminal Protective Order (CPO), which prohibits him from contacting his minor children in any form. It was “unequivocal” there was to be no contact, said Finkbeiner, getting worked up. Instead, from jail Larry made 129 calls, totaling 9 hours, to his children and parents. “They are conspiring with Larry,” declared Finkbeiner. Larry asked his children to read the news headlines to him. This was “stunning” in light of what was in the headlines. Larry told his older children to watch an R-rate movie, about a man who goes to prison. The grandparents “facilitated or failed to supervise” causing “significant emotional abuse in just the last weeks.”
Judge Kelety wanted to know if Benito and Judith had been served with the order or knew of it. They were aware of the order insisted Finkbeiner as Bonita Martinez represents both Larry and his parents. On October 27, 2021, the criminal court revoked Larry’s telephone privileges, except those with his attorney, so the criminal court has already resolved this issue stated Judge Kelety.
Finkbeiner moved onto the fourth reason, stating Larry and the paternal grandparents refused to facilitate any relationship with the maternal family. “We were stonewalled at all of our efforts to communicate with the children.” Only one brief call in September of 2021, was permitted. “What have the children been exposed to?” asked Finkbeiner, before answering, “Loss, trauma, abandonment.” They were told their mother left them.
Guardian Ad Litem Speaks
At this point, Judge Kelety, interrupted to say she had appointed Ms. James as a Guardian Ad Litem for the children. Ms. James then spoke via video stating she was appointed on Monday, and spent all day Tuesday working on the case. She spoke with both girls on Tuesday at their school, and also with their teachers. She listed all the work she had done, and said she didn’t see any exigency today to remove the children stating the girls were doing well and there were no behavioral problems reported by the school.
Ms. James said she requested documents from an ongoing CPS investigation, from the district attorney’s office, from Larry’s attorney, and wants to view the forensic examination of the children at the Chadwick Center, Larry’s audio calls from jail, the children’s medical records, and more. She agreed with the request for mental health treatment and maternal family visitation.
Attorney Goldberg and Attorney Finkbeiner
At last, attorney Goldberg spoke and informed the court the paternal grandparents will petition for guardianship, and confirmed the hearing on the permanent guardianship motions will be held on January 19, 2022. He agreed there was no showing of emergency circumstances and said the CPO was addressed by the criminal court.
Attorney Finkbeiner was given the final word. He argued under the CPO there was not to be any communication through a third party and the grandparents were aware of this fact. He went on to say, “There is nothing but exigent circumstances” here, citing the emotional trauma to the children. The maternal family spent 10 months trying to have a relationship with the children and the court would be rewarding the bad actions of the grandparents. Again, he said there was no plan by the grandparents for emotional treatment. He ended by saying this was an “extraordinary case” and asked Judge Kelety to make “extraordinary orders.”
Judge Kelety’s Order
Judge Kelety asked everyone to put themselves in the mindset of the children, imagining them in their home, their bedroom, their community before stating it was “extraordinary for the court to uproot the children.” She would not do it. She noted there were no behavioral issues at school, so it was a good sign things were not falling apart.
She ordered the guardian ad litem could review anything that would be in the interests of the children, including the forensic exam and jail phone calls. She ordered no one was to discuss the case with the children and sternly said she would not appoint a guardian who could not follow court orders. “They will never be the guardian” and would be subject to minimal contact she pronounced.
She ordered the paternal grandparents to immediately find mental health treatment for the children and provide visitation to the maternal family. The visitation was first set from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. but was expanded to 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. at attorney Finkbeiner’s request. She said she wants to expand visitation to include holidays, but needs more information on the maternal family’s relationship with the children.
As the hearing closed, Judge Kelety said there were no winners or losers here, and noted the terrible circumstances of the case. The goal was to have “children lifted up by the entire family” she encouraged. The family needed to look to what was best for the kids, what was most comfortable and safe. It is not a tug of war, the children are not pawns, or objects owned by anyone, she stated.
The next hearing will be on January 19, 2022, where both guardianship petitions will be heard.
Press Conference: No Further Statements from the Millete Family
At the press conference immediately following the hearing, attorney Finkbeiner stated this was a very sensitive case involving minor children who had been through an “extraordinary amount over the course of the last 10 months.” He said the judge ordered the parties not to say anything to the children about this case or the criminal case. As such, he does not feel, and his client does not feel that it is appropriate for them to say anything about the case.
When asked by a reporter, “The court ordered you not to talk to the kids about this case. Are you taking that as a gag order not to talk to the media?” He said the children have access to televisions and what he believes the court intends is for this not to be discussed. “So, we will not be making statements related to the case, related to the kids.” So, it appears the days of Maricris and Richard giving interviews is over.
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 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 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZLM5HCG
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: www.aleidalaw.com.