No suspects in disappearance, police say

A billboard bearing a photo Annie Le GRD '13 is seen alongside Interstate 91 on Friday.
A billboard bearing a photo Annie Le GRD '13 is seen alongside Interstate 91 on Friday. Photo by Harrison Korn.

The authorities have not identified any suspects in the disappearance of Annie Le GRD ’13, even as they expanded the search for her on Friday and Yale offered a reward of $10,000 for information.

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Yale Police Department Chief James Perrotti said in an interview late Friday evening that law enforcement officials “still have no idea” whether the 24-year-old Le ever exited the research facility at 10 Amistad St. where she was last seen Tuesday morning. But after searching that building thoroughly on Wednesday and Thursday, investigators have begun reviewing security camera footage from surrounding buildings in an effort to identify Le, a graduate student at the Yale School of Medicine who was supposed to be married this weekend.

“I know the police are aggressively pursuing it and searching the entire area by the Amistad building over and over,” University President Richard Levin said. “A situation like this is always a matter of great concern.”

There are now 100 officers from four different agencies investigating the disappearance, Yale officials said Friday. Perrotti said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is “coordinating all the resources” for the search, though FBI supervisory special agent Bill Reiner declined to comment on the investigation. In addition to the YPD and the FBI, the Connecticut State Police and the New Haven Police Department are taking part in the search.

At this point, much of the search for Le continues to center on video footage from the 75 security cameras that Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security operations, said cover every entrance and exit to the Amistad Street building.

Yale officials said investigators have also looked at Le’s computer and her e-mail account for leads in the case. Two canines from the State Police also were brought into 10 Amistad St. for about a half hour on Friday evening, though it is unclear whether Le’s scent remains strong enough at this point for the dogs to find any clues.

Asked if the investigation made any progress on Friday, Perrotti responded, “depends on how you define progress,” though he added that the authorities were following standard protocols.

One thing is clear: Le will not marry her fiancé, Jonathan Widawsky, on Sunday. The wedding, which had been planned for a year, was cancelled Friday, according to the North Ritz Club in Syosset, N.Y., where the couple had planned exchange vows.

Widawsky, a graduate student at Columbia University who attended the University of Rochester with Le, did not speak publicly on Friday, and neither did members of Le’s immediate family. Still, Yale officials have maintained that Widawsky and Le’s family are cooperating with investigators.

Highsmith held a meeting at about 2 p.m. Friday to brief occupants of the Amistad Street building about the investigation and to inform them of new security precautions in the facility.

Investigators also continued to interview Le’s friends and colleagues on Friday, a day after they searched her apartment at 188 Lawrence St. and even combed through trash in a dumpster outside the Amistad Street building.

Le has not been seen or heard from since Tuesday morning, when she left her belongings in her office at the Sterling Hall of Medicine and walked three blocks to Amistad St. A roommate reported her missing that night and investigators immediately began their work.

A fire alarm that sounded in the Amistad Street facility at 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday is thought to have been a false alarm, Highsmith said, though she acknowledged that it could be difficult to pick out Le, who is 4’11” and weighs some 90 pounds, in the footage of the evacuation. Highsmith also said it is possible that Le changed into a lab coat while in the building, which would make it even harder to identify her.

The authorities still say there is no evidence of foul play in her disappearance.

Electronic billboards across Interstates 91 and 95 are displaying a message that include a photo and description of Le and asks motorists with information about her whereabouts to contact the FBI.

Anyone with information pertaining to Le’s disappearance is asked to call the FBI tip line at 1-877-503-1950.

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