Owner of burned car in Port Lavaca identified
Dec. 27, 2013 at 6:27 a.m.
Updated Dec. 28, 2013 at 6:28 a.m.
A car discovered burning in a field near Port Lavaca on Wednesday with a body in its backseat belonged to Bhaveshkumar "Bhavesh" Patel, 26, of Port Lavaca, said Lt. Phoenix Henderson of the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office.
Patel was last seen on video leaving Motel 6, where he lived, in his 2006 silver Honda Civic at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sheriff George Aleman said. The video was recorded by a camera at the motel, which is owned by Patel's uncle.
Jiten Patel, 30, his cousin and close friend, last saw Bhavesh Patel before he went to sleep about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. He left Bhavesh watching television and using his laptop in their home at Motel 6.
About 5 a.m., Jiten Patel received a call from India from his cousin's father, who was worried. He had spoken to Bhavesh about 3:30 a.m., and described his son as depressed and upset. He had not been able to reach Bhavesh again.
Jiten Patel called all of his cousin's friends and drove throughout Port Lavaca, searching for him.
"I kept calling him on his cellphone, but it would ring two or three times and cut off," Jiten Patel said. "I drove all the way to Ganado."
The cousins had discussed Bhavesh's recent failed relationship a few times, but Jiten Patel did not realize the severity of his cousin's distress.
"I had not noticed that he was depressed, and I am with him all the time," he said. "He was not very open and held a lot of things inside."
Bhavesh Patel was very quiet, calm and never complained about anything, his cousin said.
He was a student at Victoria College studying business but had taken a semester off.
"He wanted to graduate, get a job and stay in the U.S.," Jiten Patel said.
Investigators arrived at Motel 6 about 9 a.m. Wednesday with questions about the Honda discovered in the field, Jiten Patel said.
A passer-by reported the vehicle fire near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 1090 and School Road at 4:37 a.m. Wednesday, Aleman said.
The coroner's office has not yet identified the body found in the backseat. If DNA is required for the identification, it could take several months, Aleman said.
In the meantime, a missing person's report has been issued for Bhavesh Patel.
The state fire marshal returned to Port Lavaca on Thursday to investigate the fire scene, Aleman said. Investigators did not find any accelerant in the vehicle, but they did find some of Bhavesh Patel's personal belongings.
"I wish I had known, and I wish I could have done something," Jiten Patel said.