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A Google employee whose wife was found dead during a family trip to Hawaii has been released from custody days after he was arrested in connection to her death.
Sonam Saxena, a 43-year-old resident of Bellevue, Washington, was released from police custody on Friday pending further investigation, the Hawaii Police Department said in a release issued Friday.
Sonam Saxena reported his wife, 41-year-old Smriti Saxena, missing on February 18, days before his arrest, police said. One day after that report was made, the body of a woman was found on the southern shoreline of Anaehoʻomalu Bay, prompting a criminal investigation.
After authorities positively identified the body as Sonam's wife, he was arrested under suspicion of second-degree murder, according to the authorities.
Sonam, a product manager for Google Cloud, previously told West Hawaii Today that he’d last seen his wife near the shoreline before he went back to their room at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort — 20 minutes away — to get her asthma inhaler. The couple had gone to the beach after enjoying drinks at the Lava Lava Beach Club first, he said.
“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,” he said. “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.’”
“I did that. Went to the room, picked up the inhaler, came back, and she was missing,” he continued.
Sonam and Smriti, a business program manager for Microsoft, had been married for 17 years and shared two children, aged 8 and 13 years old, West Hawaii Today reports. The entire family had traveled to Hawaii as part of an annual trip they made to the island to celebrate the oldest child’s birthday, according to the outlet.
Following the discovery of Smriti’s body — but before she was positively identified — Sonam shared a message for the Governor of Hawaii David Ige on social media, writing in a tweet addressed to him, “My wife has been missing since last night and @Hawaii_Police is busy giving interviews to media about body recovered, but is unwilling to pick up my phone.”
Sonam was arrested that day but released two days later, after police conferred with prosecutors, according to Friday’s release. Although an autopsy has been performed, a cause of death has not yet been established for Smriti, and detectives are continuing to investigate, police said.
Sonam's cousin, Garvit Gupta, told KHON2 that he has spoken to his cousin since he was released from police custody, and Sonam is “still shocked.”
Gupta also fondly remembered Smriti, who he described as a “very nice and kind person,” and expressed doubt that his cousin could have killed his wife, according to the outlet.
“They had a very healthy relationship, and both of them loved each other a lot,” he said. “They have two kids, and something like this to be done by my cousin is impossible.”
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