Hayward, Calif. -- Hayward police have announced that the human remains discovered Saturday near Pleasanton are those of nursing student Michelle Le, who went missing almost four months ago.
The Alameda County Coroner’s Office made the announcement late Monday night, almost 60 hours after during a search organized by Le’s family.
Based on evidence found in Hayward, where she was last seen, it's believed she was slain, but the exact cause of death is still under investigation, Hayward police said.
Le’s family issued a press release shortly after the announcement, asking for "privacy and respect during this difficult time."
Krystine Dinh, Le's cousin, said, "The family is grieving and preparing a memorial service for Le — a proper goodbye."
Since Le’s disappearance, her family has remained hopeful and has kept Le's story in the media spotlight, holding, public events and .
The story has made national headlines and compelled strangers to volunteer their time to help locate her.
According to a report on KTVU, the volunteer who found the remains during Saturday's search was Carrie McGonigle, the mother of Amber Du Bois, a 14-year-old San Diego area girl who was missing for a year before her remains were found in a remote area. She had been kidnapped and murdered.
"Thank you for your support and thoughts. Our family has greatly appreciated, and would be at a loss, without the help of so many people and volunteers," Dinh said Monday night.
Le, 26, a San Mateo resident who grew up in San Diego, was last seen May 27 at Kaiser Hospital in Hayward. 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 classmates she was planning to drive to Reno after class. She left 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 blood stains that were later determined to be from Le.
Earlier this month Hayward police arrested and charged a Union City woman with Le’s murder.
Giselle Esteban, 27, who has been a person of interest since Le’s disappearance, was . After her arrest, police 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, investigators said.
Police also said cell phone records from Le and Esteban show their phones traveled along the same path, leaving the area just after Le's disappearance.
Esteban was originally scheduled to enter a plea Monday morning but that was postponed because she has not yet finalized who her lawyer will be.
Though no motive has been determined, Esteban told KGO-TV reporters shortly after Le went missing that she openly hated Le after the two had a falling out some years ago. She also accused Le of ruining her relationship with her child’s father. However, Esteban said she had nothing to do with Le's disappearance.
Esteban’s ex-boyfriend told Patch in a previous interview that he and Le have been close friends for nine years and that Esteban’s accusations are untrue.
The ex-boyfriend three days before Le went missing, citing increasingly bizarre behavior that included stalking him, threatening to shoot herself and entering his home uninvited.
Esteban is scheduled to appear in court at the Hayward Hall of Justice at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28.