There is no reason to believe that a missing Yale graduate student and bride-to-be ran away, the school’s vice president said Saturday.
Annie Le, a pharmacology student, was to be married Sunday. She was last seen Tuesday outside the Yale School of Medicine building on 10 Amistad Street in New Haven, Connecticut. In response to a reporter’s question of whether there was any indication that Le ran away or did not want to get married, Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said there was “no reason to believe that whatsoever.” Discussions with Le’s family and friends did not “support that conclusion,” Lorimer said. Authorities at Saturday’s press conference would not characterize Le’s disappearance as a criminal investigation, acknowledging that they still did not know what happened to her or where she was. “We are not in the position today to conclude whether this is a missing person case or whether criminality is involved, and I need to stress that,” said Kim Mertz, special agent in charge of the New Haven Field Office. “Our goal is to find Annie Le and determine what happened to her,” she said. Mertz confirmed reports that items had been collected for analysis but would not specify what they were or where they were found. “I will categorically say a body has not been found. All I will say is that items that could potentially be evidence have been seized. None have yet been associated with Annie Le,” she said. “The items seized are being examined to determine if there’s any association to Annie Le.” University surveillance photo showing Le enter the building, dressed in a knee-length brown skirt and a bright-green short-sleeved T-shirt, is being enhanced for further analysis, Mertz said.
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It is not clear if Le ever left the building, Mertz said, confirming that a fire alarm went off around the time Le is believed to have been in the building. The alarm was automatically triggered after someone opened a device that released steam, she said. More than 100 members of law enforcement from the Yale Police Department, the New Haven Police Department, Connecticut State Police and the FBI are working the case, following up on leads and conducting interviews, Mertz said. Yale University is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the 24-year-old graduate student. Co-worker Debbie Apuzzo told CNN affiliate WTNH-TV that Le was scheduled to be married Sunday, and “her fiance hasn’t heard from her.” Apuzzo, an accountant in Yale’s Department of Pharmacology, told CNN affiliate WFSB that Le was conscientious, energetic and “very excited” about getting married. Several media outlets reported that her fiance, Jonathan Widawsky, is a graduate student at Columbia University in New York. Widawsky could not be immediately reached. Contacted via e-mail by CNN, Apuzzo declined to comment, saying her superiors had asked her to refer all media inquiries to the university’s public affairs office. She did, however, forward a letter sent by Yale University Police Chief James Perrotti to all faculty, students and staff. The letter states Yale police, the FBI, Connecticut State Police and New Haven police are investigating Le’s disappearance. Her friends, colleagues, family members and fiance are assisting police, the letter said. “The State Police have searched the area of Ms. Le’s last known appearance with their bloodhounds; law enforcement officers are continuing to undertake detailed searches of the surrounding area; and security officials are reviewing images from closed-circuit cameras in the area,” the letter said. According to the Yale police news release, Le had no known medical issues. She also does not have access to a vehicle, police said. “Annie Le’s purse containing her cell phone, credit cards and money were left in her office,” a Yale University Police Department news release said, adding that friends, family members and co-workers had not heard from her since Tuesday. Anyone with information on Le’s disappearance can call the FBI Hotline for the investigation at 1-877-503-1950.