A West Austin woman has been charged with solicitation to commit capital murder after police say she attempted to hire teens to kill her husband.
According to an affidavit filed Monday in Travis County District Court, Reena Ratilal Patel, 34, who lives in the Steiner Ranch neighborhood, drove to an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Rutland Drive in North Austin where she asked several people about hiring a person to “take care of” her husband.
A woman at the complex called police on Wednesday afternoon after she said Patel walked up to her and a friend at about 2 p.m. and said she needed her husband “taken care of.” The woman told officers she initially thought the woman meant her husband was disabled and needed home care, but the Patel clarified she needed her husband taken care of “permanently.” She further said her husband beat her up.
The woman said Patel then walked over to a group of teens, offering $4,000, though she only had $700 on her. She said she had the rest of the money at her home, where the teens could also take whatever else they wanted. The woman told officers Patel insisted the murder had to happen before 3:30 p.m. because that’s when her husband got off work and she wanted it done before the kids got home from school. The woman said one of the teens indicated he would take the job for $1,500 because he was only 16 and believed he would get just a slap on the wrist. After overhearing the conversation, the woman became worried and said called 311 so police would arrive while Patel was still at the apartment building.
When officers arrived they saw a white Toyota Highlander identified as belonging to Patel parked nearby. They saw a woman described by the caller walk up to the Highlander, where they intercepted her.
The woman identified herself as Patel, and told police she was attempting to drive to a friend’s house from the Domain Shopping Center and got lost. She stopped at the apartment building to ask for directions, but everyone accused her of being an undercover cop and ran away when police arrived.
Officers told Patel the apartments were in a high-crime area and there were businesses in the area that would have been safer to stop at for directions. Patel told officers she was a dentist and needed to pick up her children from daycare at 3:30 p.m. She remained calm and did not appear shocked when officers told her she was being investigated for soliciting someone to kill her husband, police said.
She said she was in a loving relationship with her husband and denied any violence between her and her husband. Officers noticed a bruise on her leg and Patel said she got it from a massage. She denied having any knowledge about her husband’s life insurance policy.
Officers went to Patel’s residence in the 1400 block of Hawks Canyon Circle to talk to her husband. He showed the officers text messages indicating Patel told him she was still at work as a substitute dentist for another practitioner who was sick or on vacation and she would need him to pick up the children.
After Patel was detained by police and failed to return home, her husband told officers he called the office she was supposed to be working at and learned they had never heard of her. He said Patel had done the same thing the year before when she claimed to be working but he later discovered she was not. He said he and Patel argued the previous day because she said she had not received a paycheck for her current work and he wanted to hire an attorney to sue the dentist’s office she was working at. When asked about the bruise on Patel’s leg, her husband said she had told him she ran into a sink while at work, which he then realized was untrue.
Police contacted the Texas Board of Dental Examiners and learned Patel never applied for or was granted a license to practice dentistry in Texas.
Officers searched Patel’s vehicle and home. They found $750 hidden in a bag of candy in her car and another $3,450 cash in an envelope in a drawer next to her sink.
Officers also learned Patel’s husband took out a $2 million life insurance policy last year, something his wife had full knowledge of.
Patel is held on $1 million bond on her single change of criminal solicitation of capital murder, a felony of the first degree. She’s also placed under a restraining order, prohibiting her from going near or having contact with her husband and children.