A 24-year-old graduate student at the Yale School of Medicine was declared missing on Wednesday by the Yale Police Department.
According to the police, Annie Marie Le GRD ’13 — whose wedding is supposed to take place on Sunday — has not been seen or heard from since Tuesday morning. Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security operations, said there is no evidence to suggest foul play in the disappearance but declined to elaborate further Wednesday evening, saying she would not comment on an ongoing investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut State Police are assisting the YPD in the search.
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A surveillance photograph distributed by the University shows Le, a native of Placerville, Calif., entering a Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St. on Tuesday morning. Officials say she has not been seen or heard from since.
Le, a 4-foot-11-inch Asian female who has shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes, was last seen wearing a knee-length brown skirt, a bright green short-sleeved T-shirt, brown shoes and a brown necklace. The police believe she does not have access to a car.
A 2007 graduate of the University of Rochester who is now studying for a doctorate in pharmacology and molecular medicine, Le started her Tuesday morning working in her lab at the Sterling Hall of Medicine, University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said. Le left the lab at some point that morning to walk the three blocks to the Amistad Street facility where she frequently works on experiments, Lorimer said. She brought her Yale identification card with her — records show that she swiped into the building at about 10 a.m — but left her purse, which contained her cell phone, credit cards and money, in her Sterling office, Lorimer said.
The search for Le on Wednesday was largely focused on the Amistad Street building, where she was last seen. Several dozen police and security officers searched the building and the connected parking garage late last night, but they did not find Le. The search took about an hour, though the police paused at times to obtain keys to certain remote areas of the building. People continued to enter and exit the facility as the search continued.
Several students and workers confirmed that there had been an unexpected fire alarm in the building at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and the building was evacuated as a result. Although security cameras are stationed all around the building, Lorimer said the University has not been able to confirm that Le left the facility at any point after she entered it.
“We have been looking now at all of the tapes of every exit and entrance over the entire 24 hours, just to see if there’s any information we can give to the law enforcement agencies,” Lorimer said late Wednesday evening.
No e-mail was sent to the campus community to inform students and faculty of the disappearance. Le’s fiance, Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student at Columbia University who attended Rochester with her, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, though NBC Connecticut reported that he was in New Haven helping with the search on Wednesday. Efforts to reach Le’s parents were also unsuccessful.
Le worked in the pharmacology lab of Anton Bennett, an associate professor of pharmacology. Police confiscated her belongings from that lab yesterday and were still examining her lab space Wednesday evening.
Bennett, for his part, said he was first contacted by police late Tuesday after Le’s roommate reported her missing.
He emphasized that his eight-person laboratory team, of which Le is a member, works closely together and, as such, her colleagues noticed her absence quickly.
“There was certainly immediate concern about her whereabouts,” Bennett said. “And they grew over the course of the day,” especially after she missed a pathology class for which she is a teaching assistant.
Bennett described his advisee as an extremely diligent and well-organized student. He added that she was always aware of her surroundings and took appropriate precautions when leaving the lab late at night. Colleagues interviewed universally described Le as a bundle of energy — an always upbeat and friendly individual, who, while petite, is readily recognizable by the clickety-clack of her high heels on the lab floors.
School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said he was notified about Le’s disappearance late yesterday afternoon, just before the Department of Pharmacology met and was briefed on the situation.
“The biggest thing we’re worried about right now is ‘Is she okay?’ ” he said.
Anyone with information on Le’s whereabouts is asked to contact the YPD at (203) 432-4400.