When Maya “May” Millete stopped answering texts in a family group chat on Jan. 7, her older sister wasn’t immediately worried.
Millete, a defense contractor at Naval Base San Diego, would sometimes be slow to respond to her six siblings, but the family was planning a trip to a cabin in Big Bear for Millete’s daughter’s 11th birthday. Texts and calls to make arrangements were going unanswered.
“Both May and her husband Larry’s phones were off and going directly to voicemail,” Maricris Drouaillet, 47, told The Daily Beast this week. “It was extremely unusual for my sister to be off her phone for that long—let alone turn it off and not be in communication with us at all. Especially since we had a plan to go on a trip that day for her daughter’s birthday.”
“I just felt off—like something wasn’t right,” the registered nurse added.
It wasn’t until Drouaillet’s older brother went to Millete’s Chula Vista home that the family really started to worry. There, the 39-year-old’s husband said May had locked herself in their room after an argument and hadn’t spoken to him or their three kids all day. And while the explanation seemed bizarre, Drouaillet said her brother eventually left the house.
By Saturday, however, when May hadn’t contacted anyone, her family took matters into their own hands. They demanded her husband open the bedroom door.
“The room was empty. There were no signs that anyone had left the room through a window either,” Drouaillet said, adding that her sister’s car was still in the driveway but her license and credit card were missing. “My first thought was, ‘What the hell is going on? How could she not be home?’ So we called 911.”
It’s now been two months since Millete’s family reported the California mom missing—and they are still desperately searching for answers. The case has garnered national attention and prompted hundreds of people to volunteer to help search for her.
But, making matters more difficult, Millete’s husband retained a lawyer last month and has stopped cooperating with police while also completely shutting out his wife’s family.
“It’s been a nightmare waiting helplessly and desperately for answers. It’s just unbelievable and it’s surreal,” Drouaillet said. “It’s been two months and it’s way too long to not see her kids. I can’t imagine how her kids are doing right now… I think I am coating my heart and putting [up] a wall to get through this. I am hopeful she is still with us and we are keeping that small hope.”
Larry Millete, who has never been named a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, said in a text message to The Daily Beast that the ordeal “has been difficult for everyone.”
“My kids and I are coping as best as we can,” he wrote. “I keep them busy, which in turn keeps me busy.”
However, he declined to say why he’d stopped cooperating with police. “Everything I say or do seems to be misconstrued or conveyed differently,” he wrote, adding that some media coverage had “manipulated the public’s opinion.”
The Milletes moved to Paseos Los Gatos, a small enclave in the San Diego area that rests alongside Mount San Miguel Park, in 2013. Millete enjoyed hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities with her family and three kids—aged 11, 9, and 4—and picked the house for its close proximity to nature.
The Chula Vista Police Department said Millete was last seen by her family members around 5 p.m. at her house on Jan. 7. Later that night, the Milletes, who met in high school and had been married for 21 years, had a fight. “We had problems this year, up and downs,” Larry Millete told ABC 10News on Jan. 12.
He said he believed his wife may have left for some alone time the next day, when he was at work, before returning to their bedroom. Drouaillet, however, said the couple both took Friday off work to go to Big Bear.
“We had plans and she had been looking forward to the trip,” she added, saying that days earlier May had been asking everyone to order their snowboarding lift pass so they’d be ready when they got to the California resort town.
At 11:18 p.m. on Jan. 9, Drouaillet called Chula Vista police to report her sister missing. It took the police about two hours to get to Millete’s home to investigate—at which point they learned that she had been missing for at least three days.
“Knowing we were days behind was heartbreaking to say the least,” Drouaillet said.
A Chula Vista police spokesperson told The Daily Beast that investigators executed a search warrant at Millete’s home on Jan. 23 to “obtain any evidence and clues to her current whereabouts.” The details of the warrant weren’t clear and it didn’t seem to yield any answers but neighbors told The Daily Beast that several white vans and K-9s were at the home for hours.
“They were around the house for hours and had forensic lights,” one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous out of respect for the family, told The Daily Beast. “I did not see them take anything out but they were there for so long I’m confident they searched every inch of that house for May.”
For weeks, as Millete’s family and friends organized searches and virtual vigils, police say Larry Millete was cooperative. After a few local TV interviews, however, he stopped speaking out about his wife’s disappearance. Then he stopped joining search parties or events held for his wife.
“I’m still very hopeful that [with] all this media coverage, she’ll turn up and say, ‘Hey, I’m okay,’” Larry Millete told Fox5 on Jan. 13. “I love you honey, just come back home.”
Then on Feb. 3, he stopped talking to police or his wife’s family. Authorities confirmed to The Daily Beast that he retained a lawyer and is no longer answering questions about May’s disappearance.
“We haven’t spoken to him since he retained a lawyer,” Drouaillet said. “With this kind of situation, family can kind of fall apart. But that’s his own decision and we respect that, but we hope that he can come out and speak with us and the rest of his family.”
To add to the heartbreak of being shut out by her brother-in-law, Drouaillet said, is the fact her sister’s case has not progressed in two months. The Chula Vista Police Department has labeled Millete's disappearance as a “missing persons” case and told The Daily Beast there are no new updates in the investigation.
“It’s been the same since January. No information about where my sister is,” she said. “Police are keeping us updated about the case but there isn’t much to update on, you know? We’re all just waiting for someone to come forward.”
Her family, however, has continued their push to ensure “May stays in the news.” On Sunday, they’re hosting a “March for May” near the Chula Vista community park to honor the mother-of-three before having a candlelight vigil. They’ve also set up a GoFundMe to help fund search events and the distribution of fliers and posters.
“We are fortunate there is so much community support,” Drouaillet said. “There are tremendous volunteers out there who are continuing to help us search for my sister. In a way, we are blessed there are so many people in the community that want to help.”
Drouaillet believes Larry Millete’s silence is the result of “people pointing fingers at him.” She didn’t want to speculate on what might have happened to her younger sister, who was dedicated to charity and an “all around beautiful person.”
“She was dedicated to her family, her children, and her work. No way she would just walk out of her life. She loved it,” Drouaillet said. “I’m not really sure what happened. I don’t want to stipulate because there are a lot of possibilities. All I know is that it’s heartbreaking we’re not all working together to find my sister.”