Two years ago, Bhadreshkumar Patel fatally stabbed his wife in the backroom of a Dunkin’ Donuts while customers were still in the shop, took a cab to New Jersey and then vanished, according to police and the FBI.
The “horrific” crime stunned the local Maryland community where Palak Patel, 21, was killed, but also shocked veteran homicide investigators with the level of brutality involved, authorities said.
After an exhaustive hunt for Bhadreshkumar Patel, 26, and with his whereabouts still a mystery, authorities on Tuesday added him to the FBI’s most wanted list. They hope additional publicity will lead to his capture and arrest.
“Mr. Patel brutally took her life, her ambitions and her dreams with a horrific crime of violence,” said Gordon B. Johnson, the FBI special agent in charge at the agency’s Baltimore field office.
Authorities have been searching for Patel since 2015 when he was last reportedly seen getting on a shuttle to Penn Station in Newark.
Patel is the 514th person added to the national FBI list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives,” and the second on the current list suspected of crimes committed in Maryland.
Authorities say Patel brutally killed his wife shortly before midnight April 12, 2015, in the doughnut shop on Arundel Mills Boulevard in Hanover where they worked nights. After stabbing her multiple times, he went home and collected cash and belongings, then took a cab to New Jersey, according to the FBI and Anne Arundel police. He checked into a hotel near Newark Liberty International Airport at 3 a.m., checked out seven hours later and took a hotel shuttle to the local train station, law enforcement authorities say. He has not been located since.
“The violence in this case was stark,” said Tim Altomare, police chief in Anne Arundel County. “It was heart-wrenching and a shock to our collective conscience.”
Investigators say the killing might have been motivated by a disagreement between Patel and his wife. The couple’s visas had expired and Patel’s wife wanted to return to India, but he did not, authorities assert.
The extreme violence of the crime with which Patel has been charged and his eluding authorities for two years earned him a spot on the list, Johnson said.
Patel was charged with first-degree murder, assault and other related charges in Maryland. He is charged in federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
FBI Special Agent Jonathan Shaffer said Patel’s “everyman appearance” and common last name make him particularly difficult to track. “His ability to come up with a plan in the heat of the moment to escape the area” is troubling, Shaffer said.
Patel has connections in Canada, India, New Jersey, Kentucky, Georgia and Illinois, authorities say. A reward of up to $100,000 is available for information that leads to an arrest. Those with information can call 800-Call-FBI (800-225-5324) or provide information online at tips.fbi.gov.
Since the creation of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list in 1950, 481 fugitives have been captured.
In a case also from the FBI’s Baltimore field office, William Bradford Bishop was added in 2014. Bishop is wanted in connection with the 1976 slaying of his family in Montgomery County, Md. Investigators allege he used a sledgehammer to kill his wife, three sons, and his mother and burned their bodies. Of the fugitives on the FBI list, Bishop has been on the run the longest, said Special Agent Karen Marinos, who manages the most-wanted-list program.
Field offices nominate fugitives and Marinos and others at FBI headquarters decide who earns a spot on the basis of the circumstances of each case. Marinos said that last year, the FBI paid out three $100,000 rewards to tipsters who helped to close cases.
“There’s some fortunate people who’ve run into the wrong people at the right time,” Marinos said.
“The FBI and the Anne Arundel County Police Department will not rest until Mr. Patel is located, captured and brought to justice,” Johnson said.