HAYWARD, Calif. (Bay City News Service) — Family members of missing nursing student Michelle Le said June 7 they think Le is still alive even though the Hayward Police Department is treating the case as a homicide.
“We are not giving up on finding Michelle alive,” Le’s father, Son Le, said.
Le, 26, went missing at about 7 p.m. on May 27 from Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center on Sleepy Hollow Avenue in Hayward.
Le told classmates she was planning to drive to Reno after her rotation at the hospital. She left during a break and did not return, according to Hayward police.
Speaking to reporters outside the Hayward police station on June 7, Son Le said, “We will continue to hope and pray for her return until there is conclusive and definitive proof that she is dead.” He said, “We believe that Michelle is still alive and needs to be found.”
On a Website Le’s family created, michellelemissing.com, the family has posted, “The family believes Michelle is alive. Don’t give up hope everyone. We’re still going to keep at it.”
Hayward police said they discovered compelling evidence during the investigation that “points conclusively to homicide,” and that the search has officially become “an effort of recovery.”
Le said, “If you call it a murder case, you have to have a body, but there is no body.” The family has said they learned more from media reports on June 6 than from their conversations with police.
“We are frustrated with the lack of information” from Hayward police, said Michael Le, Michelle’s brother.
He said Hayward police told the family there is a reason they are classifying the case as a homicide, but they don’t want to disclose it to the family yet. Hayward police Sgt. Steve Brown said investigators wanted to remain hopeful that Le was still alive, but “based on all the evidence, we have the grim possibility that Michelle is dead and we should prepare for the worst.”
Brown said 25 people have been interviewed in connection with the case so far and police expected to conduct more interviews June 7.
He said police are exploring the possibility that Le was targeted, and believe her case is not random.
Police are still hoping to recover Le’s body, and Brown said they are searching “remote areas of the East Bay,” but declined to be more specific.
Son Le said there will be a vigil June 9 for Le and there will be a distribution of fliers on June 12. The details will be announced later, he said. More information will be posted on michellelemissing.com.
The site also lists a family phone number, (510) 303-3013, for people to call to share any information about Le, along with contact numbers for Hayward police. The family also has created a Facebook page, “Help Find Michelle Hoang Thi Le – Missing from San Mateo, California.”
Le, a graduate of San Francisco State University, had enrolled in Samuel Merritt University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in January.
Police said factors that led to the case’s new classification include forensic evidence collected from Le’s car and the area of the parking structure where it was located; information collected during interviews; examination of evidence gathered during service of search warrants; review of video footage from the garage and other locations; and examination of Le’s cellphone records.
Le is 5 feet 6 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to call Hayward police at (510) 293-7000.