Search continues for missing student

Investigators searched the dumpster behind 10 Amistad St., Annie Le’s GRD ’13 last known location, on Thursday afternoon in search of clues regarding the missing graduate student’s whereabouts.
Investigators searched the dumpster behind 10 Amistad St., Annie Le’s GRD ’13 last known location, on Thursday afternoon in search of clues regarding the missing graduate student’s whereabouts. Photo by Grant Smith.

After a full day of work, authorities have no good news to report in the search for Annie Le GRD ’13.

Investigators interviewed Le’s friends and colleagues Thursday and continued to search the research facility at 10 Amistad St. where she was last seen Tuesday morning. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were seen entering her apartment at 188 Lawrence St. at about 1 p.m.; after two hours of searching, they removed a bag of items from the house. Still, University and law enforcement officials said there were no major developments yesterday and that they will continue searching Friday.

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“We are responding to this at this point as if it could be any kind of bad situation,” University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said in an interview. “You don’t just not go home for a couple of days.”

The 24-year-old Le, who is studying for a doctorate in pharmacology and molecular medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, is scheduled to be married Sunday to Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student at Columbia University who attended the University of Rochester with her. Lorimer said Thursday that Widawsky is cooperating with investigators and that “there’s not a worry about” his possible involvement in the disappearance.

Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said Le’s mother has also been helpful to the investigation, which is being led by the Yale Police Department with assistance from the FBI, Connecticut State Police and New Haven Police Department. Neither Widawsky nor Le’s parents have spoken publicly about Le’s disappearance.

Lorimer said officials continue to examine every frame of security tape footage from the Amistad Street building but have not yet found any evidence that Le left that facility after she entered at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Cameras cover every exit of the building, Highsmith said.

While police said Le entered the facility wearing a lime green shirt, Highsmith said it is possible that she changed clothes or put on a white lab coat while in the building. If she did, investigators will have an even harder time identifying her in the footage.

A fire alarm that was sounded at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday is not thought to be related to her disappearance, Highsmith said. She added that a malfunctioning smoke detector caused the alarm and that investigators do not believe anyone tampered with the fire system.

Just outside the Amistad Street building on Thursday night, a team of investigators wearing yellow protective suits searched trash dumpsters for evidence related to the disappearance, though the search did not seem to reveal any information. Another team of investigators from the FBI searched inside the building Thursday, following a Wednesday night search by Yale police and security officers.

Bloodhounds from the Connecticut State Police were also on the scene for most of the day, though officers said they will have a more difficult time picking up scents of Le as time passes. One officer added that it may be impossible for the dogs to do their work after 72 hours have passed from the time when Le went missing.

Le’s roommate was the first to notify authorities of Le’s disappearance Tuesday night. Yale Police Chief James Perrotti said in an interview that the YPD began investigating between 9 and 10 p.m., immediately after they learned that Le was missing, and quickly learned that Le had left all her belongings in her Sterling Hall of Medicine office early Tuesday before she walked three blocks to the facility at 10 Amistad St. where she often conducted research. Police began interviewing friends and colleagues of Le late Tuesday and continued that work on Wednesday and Thursday.

The University did not, however, send an e-mail to the entire campus until 10:42 a.m. Thursday, though media outlets were informed of the disappearance on Wednesday afternoon. Perrotti said there was a delay in alerting the media and the community because the police “do get reports of missing persons, and most of the time, through our investigation, we are able to figure out where the person is.”

University President Richard Levin added in a telephone interview Thursday night that while Yale students have gone missing before, “fortunately it has in most cases turned out to be a student simply voluntarily leaving without giving notice to people. Every time it happens, we take it with the utmost seriousness.”

Electronic billboards across Interstates 91 and 95 will display a photo of Le in the coming days and will ask motorists with information to contact the FBI. As of Thursday, police said they still have no suspects and no evidence of foul play in her disappearance.

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

Comments

  • reporter

    This sounds similar to the Cindy Song case out of Penn State in 2001:

    http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/11/11-12-01tdc/11-12-01dnews-1.asp

  • kansas

    reporter,
    Cindy song vanished in the wee morning hours after partying… I do not see the similarities ????

  • Joe

    I’m surprised the bloodhounds couldn’t find her. I think the police need to check the roof areas of the building and nearby structures. They should also look in the elevator shafts.

  • Joe

    I forgot to say that I find the picture of the workers in hazmat suits combing through garbage to be tasteless. It is nice to know they are leaving no stone unturned, but this image only sensationalizes the person’s disappearance. As far as similarities to other cases, I am reminded of Leah Hickman’s disappearance and discovery.

    http://www.huntingtonnews.net/local/071222-seaton-localfounddead.html

  • Joe

    Another area not yet investigated is whether she was being stalked. Video tapes were examined but did anyone notice anyone unfamiliar entering or exiting the building or in the vicinity?

  • Commentator

    Reporter, there are no true similarities.

  • Electrical Closet

    They should look in all the electrical closets, especially since there was a false fire alarm. Do you remember the Indiana student who was missing for 4 or 5 months and it turned out he got electrocuted in an electrical closet that was supposed to be locked. They did not see him because he fell behind a piece of equipment. If she was not on camera going out of the building, then she is in the building and most likely had a weird accident in there someplace.

  • numismatic

    Well I signed up for News from Yale for political information. I had no idea what was going on out here in the world of education seems. All over we have problems this is why I do not see a point in warring with other nations because we have our own problems here in our own country. Things like this should become a priority and not taken lightly and anyone who is responsible for her disappearance should be punished with real punishment not going to jail either when a student is hurt or worst often found injured there should be major punishment met. There are the people who are going to help our kids on day or help our make advancement in the medical world. There are no reasons why the FBI should have not been contacted earlier but you know Yale has a reputation to uphold and this could lead to people enrolling somewhere else but safety is the issue and someone should have reported this sooner. There is not an excuse why they did not concern themselves earlier with this matter might have saved this young lady from whatever really happened to her. I saw the story on CNN news not to mention sense I wrote political stories I thought Yale could be a good topic to discuss the first time I got have faith that next time something like this happens in the future and hoping it does not happen to anyone but you will consider contacting some people who are more swifter to make faster decisions on contacting any law enforcement. Maybe even consider private security for this matter. And more Camera’s around the building.

    Well I just wish everyone well and hope that this does not turn out to become a cover up because learning that a alarm was pulled and everyone had to leave makes me think maybe she walked in on something or maybe she was researching something that someone wanted to keep private anything can happen and our country greed is always the answer but there is not reason to hurt anyone over something that could have been resolved another way.

    Thanks for your time, and reading my article.

    Numismatic
    http://ihid.us?i=miy

  • Washington

    I know they have said they do not see a connection but I can’t help but think the fire alarm incident has something to do with this mystery. What a perfect diversion this creates for someone to run in or out unobtrusively in all the chaos.

  • DCWRose

    As the mother of a Yale College freshman, I am very concerned about this story, about campus safety, and for my daughter’s well-being. I am beside myself, thinking that a young woman inside an academic building could be attacked.

  • SonnyRice

    Annie Le MED now missing I ask you all How many of our children and women must die or disappear before we stand up to protect them. It seems to be a problem that will not go away by ignoring . I call upon each and every citizen to “ Stand With ME “ and do the right thing.
    We outnumber the bad in this country in all but the willingness to get involved. The low life’s count on us not getting together. They operate in the day light as well as in the dark without any apparent fear. They come in all sizes, ages, colors, all incomes, yet no one sees them. We look away and hope they don’t see us. We turn blind and deaf as they prey on our society. We no longer know who our neighbors by name. Fear fills our streets, schools, and public parks for both the young and the old.
    I say it is the bad ones who should live in fear. Stand with each other and take back our country. Stand with me and I will help you be strong. Every person that helps another, helps themselves. Go out and greet your neighbors so a stranger stands out from the crowd. Watch out for all our loved ones so we are no longer prey.
    Stand with me America so our country can be safe. I can’t be by your side everyday so please stand together. I can’t be everywhere but you can.
    You are all stronger then the bad. No bully can face a crowd. No thief can steal what all eyes are on. No child can be harmed if we all listen and see. No woman can be harmed if people are there to render aide. No one old or young can suffer if we all stand together.
    I call upon you my fellow Americans to return control of this great land. I will be there for you, so please be there for each other. Be the human being and let us put the animals in a cage. No vigilantes, only citizens doing what is right. If we fill the jails we will build more of them. If we save one person the cost will balance out. Are you willing to live a better life now. Stand with me America, I can not do it alone.

    Stand up with me, and America will be free. Stand side by side, against all who don’t abide.
    Stand up against all crimes, and we will live in the best of times.
    Stand up at home with all your might, a family united is worth the fight.
    Stand up for the weak, and together we can have the life we seek.
    Stand up for the young and old, for together we may all be bold.
    Stand up against everything wrong, Stand as one and be strong.
    Stand together and end all pain, Stand united and we all gain.
    Stand against bullies and thieves, Stand deaf to he who deceives.
    Stand up with me as a proud American, and honestly do all that you can.
    Contact me ernieiii@hotmail.com – Together we are strong – Let us work together America.

  • Electrical Closet

    Here is a link to that story I posted about above — about the mysteriously missing student in Indiana who was found 3 or 4 months later in an electrical closet:

    http://www.hiphop-universe.com/underground/daily-news-press/91167-03-20-07-purdue-students-body-found-electrical-closet.html

  • Electrical Closet

    Yeah here is another article about Wade Steffey in the high voltage closet. They DID use dogs to try to find him, but that did not work:

    http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2007/03/wade-steffeys-death-deserves-answers.html

    So I am saying again– check your high voltage electrical closets there.

  • elena

    I f Annie Le never left the building by herself and being so little and I guess with tiny bones couldn´t someone placed her body inside a luggage or a big pack and left the building with her?During the fire alarm incident, par example? If the dogs didn´t smell any blood it means I guess, there was no blood at all. And accident or the breaking of the bones maybe the cause of this terrible thing.

  • alum

    ^ I see this sad case has brought all the crazies out.

  • bobby the saint

    the Ny Daily News and New York Post are reporting that authorities questioned a Yale prof. in Ms. Le’s disappearance.

    Here is the link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/09/12/2009-09-12_professor_questioned_by_police_in_case_of_missing_yale_student_annie_le.html

    Is it possible that this prof could be a “person of interest”? If so, I wonder if Ms. Le went to see this prof — maybe he was stalking her, maybe they were involved — and after a dispute something tragic happened. To cover up, maybe this person pulled the fire alarm to cover up. This is all speculation on my part, but the pieces do seem to fit. Whatever the case, my heart goes out to Ms. Le’s family and boyfriend. No one should have to experience such anxiety over a missing loved one.

  • crazy

    As long as everyone is drawing comparisons, it seems more like the ny highrise cleaner who went missing inside the building and was found stuffed in a mechanical duct. Given Le’s small frame, length of dissapearance and lack of evidence of her leaving the building…

    http://origin2.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,533680,00.html

  • May in Florida

    the fire alarm DEFINITELY has a “connection” to this disappearance. Are you Nuts?

    Someone in that building hauled that little girl’s body out during that “fire alarm”… where are the video(s) of exits? Are all exits covered by camera?

  • HIeronymus

    Ditto #15.

    And some folks think *I* am whacko; at least I am coherent (generally).

  • Laura

    Does anyone know what she was carrying when she went into the building? On the video, she is holding quite a lot. Were those things found? Were they undisturbed?
    My guess is that she was just dropping something off – because she left her purse and cell phone at other building. Most women always bring those items if they are going elsewhere for any period of time — like to actually do work in the lab. Did someone call her to bring something over to the lab? Did anyone see her in her lab?
    Seems strange. But it does look like she has met with foul play, unfortunately.

  • Anon

    Re the dogs: Bloodhounds do not necessarily follow blood, Elena, they follow scent. By the time they were used (Friday I think), the scent in a busy city would have dissapated. My question for YPD & NHPD is why weren’t they used on Wednesday morning?

  • Electrical Closet

    K-9 Dogs – In this incident I posted about above, about the Indiana student, Wade Steffey, who was missing for months and was found 50 feet from where he was last seen — in a high voltage electrical closet – a closet that had been opened and looked into when searching for him (he was behind a piece of equipment) — In that case, DOGS were used to search for him, but did not smell him, presumably because the high voltage closet doors lock and seal quite well, keeping in the odor. Surely this Yale building has such closets, or other places where she may have gotten trapped in an accident. She could get electrocuted or locked in a room or have a piece of equipment fall onto her, or any number of other accidents. Possible accidents should be investigated as rigorously as possible crimes

    Also, I am with the people wondering if that was a baby she was carrying in that photo as she entered the building. It looks like a baby and she is holding it baby-style. Does anyone posting here know?

    To the person writing in about the heating ducts: I really hope you are wrong. That would be horrific. Also, I can’t imagine anyone at Yale being stupid enough to do that. But your idea sure does make sense.

  • Electrical Closet

    I just read they found bloody clothes hidden above ceiling tiles in the building so it is so very sad and looks as if she must have met with a very terrible end. How terrible this is.
    How terribly sad for her fiance and everyone.

  • wondering

    wonder where the incinerator is? dont large labs etc have the kind of incinerator you can dispose of trash on each floor? could be no trace

  • Anon

    Seems like some people watch too many crime dramas on TV.

  • Janet Hermann

    crazy, I agree with your post as I was thinking it is very similar to the case in NY where the woman went missing and was never seen leaving the building. They found her in the ventilation shaft. They also used dogs, etc and found no trace of the body. They found her because blood started dripping from her onto the floor after 4 days.
    Hopefully none of this is the case but after finding blood soaked clothing hidden, it sounds that way.

  • CM

    #24

    As far as I know, there is no incinerator in labs themselves. Biological trash here is usually put in cardboard boxes, which are then closed with tape, and marked with names/dates/”biological waste”.

    And then they got sent somewhere (in Yale) to be disposed. I have no idea where that is, though??? But we definitely don’t take care of them in the lab itself.

  • Charles

    >>>>#11 By SonnyRice

    Cool story, bro.

  • Dog Rescurer

    I feel so sorry for the family, fiance, friends, and collegues of Miss Annie. This is making me sick. This was to be one of the happiest days of her life. The part that is so very scary is that she was so cautious. Has anyone thought about the alarm going off was maybe her attempt to get help.

  • btdt

    “the Ny Daily News and New York Post are reporting that authorities questioned a Yale prof. in Ms. Le’s disappearance.

    Here is the link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/09/12/2009-09-12_professor_questioned_by_police_in_case_of_missing_yale_student_annie_le.html

    Is it possible that this prof could be a “person of interest”? If so, I wonder if Ms. Le went to see this prof — maybe he was stalking her, maybe they were involved — and after a dispute something tragic happened. To cover up, maybe this person pulled the fire alarm to cover up. This is all speculation on my part, but the pieces do seem to fit.”

    If the professor is in any way responsible, Yale will cover it up. I have witnessed nothing but disgusting things, in the way that Yale covers up the actions of its faculty and staff, for the purpose of “defending Yale.” Yale will never admit it, or anyone it hired, has done anything wrong. They will spin media, pull strings, cover up, and they do actually have the power to go there.

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