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FBI offers $20,000 reward in Hanover homicide

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man suspected of killing his wife last week in a Hanover doughnut shop.

Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel, 24, is considered armed and dangerous, police said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the reward.

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The FBI has launched a nationwide search for Patel, special agent Steve Vogt said, that will include billboards placed along the East Coast.

Patel is accused of killing his wife, Palak Patel, 21, the night of April 12 in the kitchen of the Dunkin Donuts on Arundel Mills Boulevard.

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Anne Arundel police spokesman Lt. T.J. Smith said Patel stabbed his wife "multiple times." They were the only two employees on duty at the time.

County police Capt. Herbert Hasenpusch said the killing appears to have stemmed from some type of argument or disagreement. It doesn't appear pre-meditated, he said.

Police were alerted to the crime by a customer who entered the shop and didn't see any employees. Smith said Palak was dead 27 minutes before an officer arrived. He described the scene as "gruesome."

Investigators have surveillance video from in and around the business, Smith said.

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An affidavit filed in federal court Monday says Patel went to his home, blocks from the Dunkin Donuts, and retrieved his passport after the killing. Patel was born in India and came to the U.S. legally last fall, the FBI said, but his VISA expired in March.

Patel then took a taxi from Hanover to a hotel outside of Newark International Airport in New Jersey.

The FBI on Wednesday released surveillance photos of Patel at the hotel. Police said investigators also received information that Patel went to Penn Station in Newark.

Investigators have no evidence to suggest Patel left the U.S., Smith said.

"We're not sure he has the means to get out of the country," he said.

The FBI has alerted transportation officials to stop Patel before he boards any planes.

Patel faces charges of first- and second-degree murder, along with first- and second-degree assault and a weapons offense. He also faces a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Anyone with information on Patel's whereabouts can call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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