Investigators search for missing Yale graduate student
HARTFORD, Conn. – Investigators sifted through garbage at an incinerator Sunday, looking for clues into the disappearance of a Yale University graduate student who was supposed to be celebrating her wedding day.
FBI agent Bill Reiner said Sunday that investigators are “following the trash” that left the university laboratory in New Haven. He declined to comment further on the search at the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority’s trash-to-energy plant in Hartford.
Annie Le, 24, was last seen Tuesday morning at the lab. More than 100 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies are looking for her but have not yet determined if Le’s disappearance is a missing person’s case or an act of foul play.
Authorities say Le, a pharmacology doctoral student originally from Placerville, Calif., swiped her identification card to enter the lab. But there is no record of her leaving despite some 75 surveillance cameras around the complex. Her ID, money, credit cards and purse were found in her office.
Investigators on Saturday said they recovered evidence from the building that houses Le’s laboratory, but would not confirm reports by media outlets that the items included bloody clothing.
In a story published Saturday, the Yale Daily News quoted an unnamed New Haven Police Department official as saying the bloody clothes were found in a ceiling at the building. The official spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity so the official would be free to discuss an ongoing investigation.
On Sunday morning, a state police Major Crimes Squad van drove down a ramp into the basement area of the building where the lab is located. Officials had no immediate comment.
Yale is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Le’s whereabouts.
On Sunday, students prayed for Le’s safe return at The University Church.
“It has been a week that has tested many people in many different ways,” the Rev. Ian Buckner Oliver said just before he gave the Sunday morning sermon. “It has brought up a lot of fears for people. It has brought up a lot of worry and concern for her and for all our safety.”
The student-dominated congregation offered a moment of silence and prayer, “for Annie, and her family, who have arrived here in New Haven, for her fiance, on this, what would have been their wedding day. Let’s lift them up in our prayers,” Oliver said.
Le’s family arrived in New Haven on Saturday, Oliver said after the service. He said the church doesn’t have any other events or prayer services planned specifically for Le.
“There is nothing else at this point because the university and police have said there is no criminal investigation, there is no proof of a crime. So at this point, we are just praying,” Oliver said.
Le, who’s of Asian descent, stands 4 feet 11 inches and weighs 90 pounds. She was to marry Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky on Sunday at the North Ritz Club in Syosset, N.Y., on the north shore of Long Island.
Police say Widawsky is not a suspect and is assisting with the investigation.