Investigators Continue Searching for Clues After Body Found During Search for Michelle Le

Investigators on Sunday continued looking for clues along Pleasanton Sunol Road in unincorporated Alameda County, where a body was found during a search for Michelle Le, a San Mateo woman police say was slain more than three months ago.

Pleasanton, Calif. — Alameda County crime teams on Sunday continued poking through thickets of tall dry brush south of Pleasanton, hunting for evidence where searchers found human remains on Saturday.

The wooded area sits along a creek flanked by older oak trees and is easily reached by car off Verona Road. It's a few miles north of where Highway 84 meets Interstate 680 and two miles south of Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, near the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.

The body was decomposed and the gender remains unknown at this point.

"It hasn't been there a very short time or a very long time," Alameda County Sheriff's spokesman J.D. Nelson said on Saturday.

He didn't know how long it would take to identify the body, which was removed from the area Saturday night, but said DNA testing is much faster now than it used to be.

He said investigators used a fairly new camera that takes 360-degree pictures of a scene, creating an incredibly detailed record.

According to Hayward police, the body was found around 10:30 a.m. during a search organized by Le's family but that an officer was present when it was first seen.

"We are 100 percent certain it is a crime scene," Nelson said. "It's a human body."

Nelson said the agencies would conduct a joint investigation until it is determined whether or not the body is Le's.

Le's family issued a statement Saturday night via their Facebook page that said they have no comment on any search findings at this time and that they plan to continue to search until she is found.

Le, 26, a San Mateo resident, was last seen May 27 at the Kaiser Hospital in Hayward, according to police. She was at the hospital taking a class as part of a nursing course she was enrolled in at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland.

She told many classmates she was planning to drive to Reno after class. She left class during a break and didn't return, according to police.

Police found her car parked a few blocks from the hospital the next day, with bloodstains that were later found to be from Le.

A former friend, was arrested Sept. 7 on suspicion of murder. Esteban was a suspect early in Le's disappearance. Police later revealed that a pair of athletic shoes taken in a May 29 search of her apartment contained Le's DNA.

Police said footage from security cameras at the Kaiser Permanente parking structure showed that Esteban, who is now seven months pregnant, was there around the time of Le's disappearance. Additionally, evidence found inside Le's car indicated that Esteban had been inside the vehicle.       

Police also said cellphone records from Le and Esteban show their phones traveled along the same path, leaving the area just after Le's disappearance. 

The  Saturday was the second in two days and one of an ongoing series of searches organized by Le's family. The area reportedly had been searched previously by Hayward police and by family members, based on clues from cell phone signals.

While it seems hard to imagine that a body left not far from a road could remain unnoticed for very long, Nelson pointed to the thick weeds and tall brush — standing higher than 6 feet in parts — and said if someone was walking by it could easily have been missed.

A resident of the only house in the immediate area said Sunday that her family hasn't been told anything by law enforcement and that they only know what they've read in the media. She said it was surprising to see the crime scene unit there Saturday night.

Elise Scarlott, who grew up in the home, said she used to go for walks along the rarely traveled road but hadn't done so in the past year.

"If it is Michelle Le then I'll be glad for her family," Scarlott said.

Patch will update this story when further details are available.

Patch Union City Editor Zoneil Maharaj and Bay City News contributed to this report.

Marty September 19, 2011 at 04:32 AM
GOLDEN RULE: Never mess with a MAN with Baggage...RUN...as fast as you can. Another girlfriend, a ex-wife, a baby-mama, are all reasons enough to live by principals, morals, and values. Don't lower your standards to increase your odds. No man is THAT FINE!!! You may end up dead....over a fine man?? Was he really worth your life....Michelle?? Really....now....she knew how jealous her ex-friend was, but Michelle decided to "walk the plank" and "toy" with that jealousy...now is one dead "nurse".......know the game....and if you decide to play....deal with the circumstances. I'm sure she knew....she was playing with fire. Jealousy....is FIRE!! Murder was not the answer to this love triangle, but she played the game, and took that chance. Everyone, put yourself in Estabans shoes, being pregnant and all, she obviously has a black heart, evil, vindictive, cold, callous, mean spirited, etc., demons at work....they took over....murder was the end result. It does happen.
Cory Noltensmeier September 19, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Education and a good family life is key to stopping crime. Should be used to stop bad grammar and spelling also, but it isn't. I mean look at all of you commenting. Most can't even put a sentence together to save your own lives. At least this is all coming to a close and the family can find peace soon.
Debra Gress September 19, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Maybe I missed something. Does anyone know why they say Estaban is a "former" friend? What happened that would make a friend that angry? Another body? Really sad. At least another family will be able to have some closure.
Versie September 19, 2011 at 01:24 PM
They were high school friends and colllege friends while attending San Diego State University together. The had a falling out as a result of the Esteban's ex-boyfriend's interest in Michelle Le
Versie September 19, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Jada you have your morals all screwed up!!
Versie September 19, 2011 at 01:30 PM
The coroner annouced this morning that the gender of the skeletal remains will be determined sometime today.
Margie September 19, 2011 at 02:31 PM
" IT HASN'T BEEN THERE A VERY SHORT TIME OR A VERY LONG TIME" Why not just say you don't know how long it"s been there.
Geoff Burton September 19, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Yes, what is that ,it's not even good double talk.
Marty September 19, 2011 at 06:26 PM
These two women were educated, they attended San Diego University together, and I am sure they have great families....so, say again...why this crime wasn't stopped? Boy, sometimes ignorance is a virtue! Great parents died at the hands of the Melendez Brothers too....so, there goes education to stop crime. BTK was a lawyer.
Marty September 19, 2011 at 06:33 PM
It is having principals, morals, values, and self-respect to "stop" another women's man. My friend's husband was flirting with me while I sat in HER KITCHEN eating my barbeque food, so when she walked in...I said loudly..."D why aren't you paying as much attention to your wife as you are paying to me? I'm sure she would like another margarita too." If you think I am attracted to a snake, your wrong, my attraction is to a real man, who can let his woman know he is chasing me." With that there was silence, my friend broke down crying, hugged me, thanked me and told me I didn't know how many "previous friends" passed their numbers to her husband and stabbed her in the back....well, homie don't play that, nope...I set his record straight. Unfortunately, months later he was molesting his 8 yrs old daughter, now he is in prision and they did divorce. Ya never know, until you know, who people really are.
Versie September 19, 2011 at 06:52 PM
I was thinking the same thing when I read that?
renee September 19, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I can't believe how people could ever HATE someone so much that they take there life. Its sad people can do something so horrible to someone. From what I heard, over a Guy I hope this guys was worth Esteban staying in jail for life and most likely never being able to her kids grow up And graduate. She will miss all her kids birthdays. Most of all a beautiful person Michelle le had her life taken Away from her. Now Michelle's family has to suffer. I'm sure that's something NO family gets over. Its sad people can Do this. My heart goes out to Michelle's family. I hope whoever did This to Michelle pays for it. And I hope its not another Anthony story. It makes me sick whoever killed her is still out there.
Nick September 19, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Esteban was reportedly mentally unstable, which probably is one of the reasons why she killed. I'm not making an excuse for her, but she should not have been on the loose. I don't think she can see the future, it was now, or never, she's pregnant again, 7 months now, but what at the time of the murder, 4 months? She was probably delusional. I grew up with someone, who got on drugs and heavy drinking in college, ended up butchering a chamber maid in Nevada. Right now he's locked in a pschiatric ward.
Tim September 19, 2011 at 11:02 PM
Esteban knew right from wrong. This was a premeditated murder, not some random act. If they can find enough evidence to prove she did it she should never again see the light of day. What I am stuck on is the social soap opera here. The ex-boyfriend had a restraining order against Esteban and Le had been talking with this man. I think this man should be questioned. I don't believe he did anything wrong but he knew Esteban was unstable and he knew Esteban was jealous of him socializing with Le. I'm not saying anyone could have foreseen murder, but certainly an unpleasant confrontation between Esteban and Le was forthcoming. While not guilty of a crime, certainly he could have manned up and attempted to control the situation or minimally alert law enforcement.
Geoff Burton September 20, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Was there anything between Le and the ex-boyfriend, or is it just more of the blah,blah,blah endless speculation that gives us all something to gab about, but is realistically not worth a hill of beans.
Marty September 20, 2011 at 02:28 AM
If it is true that Estaban's boyfriend had a restraining order against her, then he should have advised Michelle Le to do the same. Thinking smart, could have saved this womans life. A restraining order is no joke, it means STAY AWAY!! FOR A REASON. Michelle for sure should have never gone down to her car, on her break, to meet this psycho friend. She should have taken someone else with her. if she had to go at all. Did Estaban call her outside to confront her? Only the police know for sure, tracing those cell phone calls and travel. Boy, those smart phones secret tracking device can be of some good, but also kinda scary, her phone tricked her up. Pay the bill so it can used against you in a court of law. Unbelieveable. I SPY ON YOU, OR YOU ARE SPYING ON YOURSELF when you purchase those smart phones. BIG BROTHER doesn't have to watch you, they just put new technology into your phones....making it easy to track you. There must a defense in place for that. It may illegal for the police to have published the tracking of both phones together, since she is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This may be a constitutional violation. Playing Devils Advocate here.
Geoff Burton September 20, 2011 at 02:45 AM
We really have to wait for the court case. I haven't read every article related to this case , so maybe I'm in the dark here, but who said anything about Esteban calling Le at work to meet her in the parking lot. My earlier question still stands, where was it written that Le was romantically involved with the ex-boyfriend. Civil liberties aside I'm glad my phone has a tracking device in it.
Dublin Mom September 20, 2011 at 03:50 AM
@Geoff: I followed this case from the beginning and became a searcher for every organized search. I know the following things: 1. Michelle is very much loved and missed by her family and friends. There are A LOT of them. 2. Michelle and Giselle were best buds for years from high school in the San Diego area. Michelle was well acquainted with Giselle's now former boyfriend, father to Giselle's daughter. Michelle never had a romantic relationship with the former boyfriend, but Giselle blamed Michelle for the break up. It does not necessarily mean that there was a suspected affair. Giselle was stalking and threatening the ex-boyfriend and his family. She was behaving erratically and had a history of violence. He got a restraining order and had custody of the daughter. 3. The evidence includes DNA on Giselle's shoes; evidence that Giselle was in Michelle's car; the video proof that Giselle was in the Kaiser lot before and after Michelle went missing; the phone's cell tower pings that were on a similar path at the same time; and Giselle's contact with the media to let them know how much she hated Michelle. In regards to the pregnancy being a factor, Giselle was 4 months along at the time of Michelle's disappearance. You don't even show until 6 months. Plus, I have seen women up to 9 months pregnant get into physical altercations. It is stupid and dangerous to the baby, but the baby's well-being is somehow secondary to their emotions.
Maxton Dramite September 20, 2011 at 03:56 AM
Dublin Mom September 20, 2011 at 04:10 AM
continued: 4. Scott Peterson is on Death Row for less, and it was circumstantial. 5. Everyone in Pleasanton or Sunol who is familiar with this area knows that in May, June and July, the foliage was so lush and thick that you could have missed a fluorescent basketball while standing over it. If this specific area was searched before, I would not fault a searcher who missed the evidence. I have no knowledge of any container that may have been used, I don't know where that idea came from. I have no knowledge of any other evidence. If I did have knowledge, I would not share it, it would violate my fiduciary duty to Mission Michelle and be injurious to the family. Nobody who has volunteered will offer any information. It is up to the police to give that out, and they will not speculate. They will rightly give the family the information first. 6. The family of Michelle Le is strong and determined. They have conducted themselves with dignity and class throughout this entire ordeal. 7. Michelle needs to come home. Her family and friends need her to come home. She WILL come home.
Tim September 20, 2011 at 04:20 AM
I don't like the GPS tracking in the phone either, however, it's not like the government is doing it, nor is the government implanting a GPS chip on your person. Don't like it, then don't purchase or use a smart phone, period. It's a free market choice you make when you purchase this type of device. I do think that companies that manufacture the devices and the software that operates them should be required to disclose all information pertaining to the tracking of the device.
Geoff Burton September 20, 2011 at 04:52 AM
Thank You Dublin Mom. Thank you for setting the record straight,for helping in the search to bring Miss Le home and for keeping hope alive. I have looked over my posts and I feel you have answered my underlying questions. I hope I have at no time shown any disrespect in my posts, I don't think I have. It is worth stating again My heart is with the Le family I have a 22 yr old daughter and though I haven't mentioned it before Miss Le looks a lot like my niece who is away at school abroad so I have always hoped for the best outcome. I am not the most articulate writer out there , so my words fail to convey what my heart feels.
Geoff Burton September 20, 2011 at 04:55 AM
I intend this as my last post on this thread.
Dublin Mom September 20, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Two news stations have just reported that the remains are indeed Michelle. May her family find comfort in this knowledge. May Michelle finally rest in peace.
Marty September 20, 2011 at 05:18 AM
To Dublin Mom....wow...you sure have knowledge on this case. What I don't understand is the pregnancy from the same fellow? If not, then why would Estaban be tripping like she is...if she moved on & got pregnant from another man? This is what I mean when I refer to morals, principals, values and respect. It seems like the young women of today...are not in touch with any of those important attributes. And the babies are brought into this world for all the wrong reasons.
Zoneil Maharaj September 20, 2011 at 05:40 AM
The body has been identified as Michelle Le. Here's the Patch report: http://patch.com/A-mlqS
Dublin Mom September 20, 2011 at 05:45 AM
Who is the father of the unborn child? This is one question that I did not get a definitive answer to. Since Giselle is not married, I expect that there will be a DNA ordered in two months when the baby is born. One thing is certain, Michelle will never be a mother. Her brother, Michael, will never be an uncle. God Bless this tormented family to find peace.
Dublin Mom September 20, 2011 at 06:06 AM
Thank you, Patch, you have truly gone the extra mile in reporting on this situation. I personally witnessed a Patch reporter going down into a creek to follow a search team. As far as I could tell, The Patch has been respectful and has given accurate and informative accounts of this situation. I hope that all media respect the privacy wishes of the family at this difficult time. They have been through Hell.
Marty September 20, 2011 at 06:17 AM
Breaking News Monday, September 19, 2011 Hayward police confirm body found is Michelle Le The Hayward Police Department has confirmed that the body found on Saturday in Niles Canyon is in fact that of missing nursing student Michelle Le. The cause of death is still unknown. >> DETAILS HERE
Versie September 21, 2011 at 01:22 AM
There are so many unanswered questions about this entire case. The only definitive answers will come when the case goes to trial, then and only then will we know how Michelle met her fate and what was Esteban's reasons and motives for murdering this lovely young lady. I dont have any problem with making the assumption that Esteban did in fact murder Michelle. Unless some other evidence comes out later that points to someone else, but I highly doubt it. My heart goes out to the entire Le family and all of Michelle's close friends. I know first hand what is feels like to lose a loved one unexpectedly, it is the worst feeling in the world. You have to wake up every morning knowing that you will never see them again. To all of the people in this forum: Please be careful and do not take life for granted.


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