Hawaii police on Wednesday arrested a Google project manager on suspicion of second-degree murder following the disappearance of his wife a day earlier.
Sonam Saxena, 43, of Bellevue, Wash., was taken into police custody following the discovery of a body near Aneahoomalu Bay, police said in a statement.
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Saxena’s wife, Smriti, a 41-year-old Indian woman, was last seen at the Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa on Feb. 18 around 10:30 p.m. She was wearing a black dress with a multicolored floral design and a black jacket, authorities said.
Though police have not confirmed the identity of the body found in the bay, they said the location was “in the general areas where Smriti Saxena was reported as a missing person and last seen late Tuesday evening.”
Coral fragments and lava rock on the South Kohala coast. Big Island, Hawaii.
Prior to his arrest but before the body was found, Saxena told West Hawaii Today that he loved his wife and pleaded with the public to help find her.
Saxena said he last saw Smriti, a business program manager for Microsoft, on the shoreline south of the bay. The duo, who was staying at a luxury Marriott resort with their two children, had been drinking at the Lava Lava Beach Club before deciding to take a stroll.
“She got an asthma attack right there on the beach and she was feeling weak and she didn’t want to walk all the way back because it’s almost a 20-minute walk back from that beach to our room,” Saxena explained. “So I said, ‘Hey, you know what? You stay here, you have your phone with you and I’ll just go to the room, grab your inhaler and pump and come back.”
Smriti Saxena went missing in Hawaii. Her husband, Sonam, has been arrested in connection to her disappearance. (Hawaii Police Dept)
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Saxena told the newspaper that when he returned about 45 minutes later, his wife was nowhere to be found. Her purse, cellphone, credit card and driver’s license were where the couple had last been seen on the secluded beach but there was no sign of Smriti.
“I was disturbed because why would she leave her purse and her phone on the beach and head back to the room?”
— Sonam Saxena, arrested in connection to the disappearance of his wife Smriti
“I was disturbed because why would she leave her purse and her phone on the beach and head back to the room?,” he said. “It just seemed really odd. So I rushed back to the room. I checked the room and I saw that she wasn’t in the room. So I went downstairs and that’s when I dialed 911.”
Saxena said he and hotel security went and searched the beach for his missing wife before the cops showed up.
“We called out to her, but there was nothing,” he said. “No response.”
Following her disappearance, Saxena posted a message on the social media networking site LinkedIn, asking for people to help find his wife.
Sonam Saxena used the social media networking site LinkedIN to ask for help finding his wife. (LinkedIN)
“Linkedin network my wife Smriti Saxena is missing. Can you please promote this tweet so that I can tell my daughters where their Mom is #help.”
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The couple, who have been married for 17 years, have two children ages 8 and 13. They come to Hawaii’s Big Island every year to celebrate their eldest child’s birthday.
Calls to the police department for additional comment were not immediately returned.