Former friend of missing woman "person of interest"

June 1, 2011 1:14:04 AM PDT
After five days, there is still no sign of missing Bay Area nursing student Michelle Le. Hayward police have issued at least four search warrants and are interviewing more than a dozen friends of Michelle's.

On Saturday, police served a warrant at the home of one of Le's former friends. The woman was arrested but the later released. The woman says police seized her computer, cellphone and other items as part of their investigation and told her she was a "person of interest" in the case.

ABC7 News has also learned that police came to a Fremont neighborhood to speak with a male friend of the missing woman.

"And again, we have to continue look at all our possible persons of interest," said Hayward Police Lt. Roger Keener.

Hayward police say there are obvious similarities between the disappearance of San Mateo nursing student Michelle Le and the unsolved murder of a Fairfield nurse last year. Keener said Phuong Le also drove a white Honda. She was a nurse and both share the same last name. Phuong Le was reported missing by her family in April of last year after she had gone to a Barnes and Noble book store the night before. Her car was found in the parking lot of the bookstore, along with her personal items. Her body was later discovered in a remote area of Napa County.

But Keener says there are differences as well. For one thing, Phuong Le's car was unlocked. Michelle Le's Honda was secured.

"That's if to say the last person to drive that vehicle wanted to make sure the interiors were protected," Keener added.

But as in Phuong's case, Michelle Le's personal items were undisturbed, including her laptop which Keener says indicates robbery was not a factor if a crime in fact occurred.

Michelle Le disappeared Friday evening when she left a nurses mentoring class at Kaiser Hospital Hayward, telling a friend she had to rush over to her car parked at the hospital garage to get some things. That was the last time anyone saw her. Michelle Le's Honda was found later not far from the hospital.

So far, investigators say they have found no leads from talking to her roommate in San Mateo and there has been no activity on Michelle Le's cellphone since early Saturday.

But police are reviewing more security video from garage cameras, which they have been unable to do. Keener says they scanned some video early on and that they did see a car similar to Michelle but it proved inconclusive. Police are now looking at more video from the garage security cameras.

"We did see a vehicle similar to Michelle's, the one camera we saw wasn't very conclusive so we do have an investigator going out there today to look at all the video," Keener said.

Keener also told reporters they have yet to finish processing Michelle Le's car and that some of the evidence may have to be sent to a crime lab where it may take weeks to get results.

In the meantime, Michelle Le's family is coming together to help in the effort to find her. Her father has flown into the Bay Area from Vietman and her aunt has come up from San Diego. Thuy Le says Michelle Le would never just leave without telling anybody, especially her brother, with whom she is very close.

"She never leave without telling Michael where she going or what to do, so it's not like Michelle just to leave and not telling anybody," she said.

Michelle Le's family has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to her safe return.

ABC7's John Alston contributed to this report.

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