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Investigators Search Niles Canyon for Michelle Le's Body With No Luck

A 35-person police team searched about 30 square miles of Niles Canyon, Palomares Canyon and ranchland off Mission Boulevard in Union City while her family and friends gathered in San Diego to hold vigil wishing for her return.

Bay City News and Patch Staff

Search dogs and forensic investigators had no luck today searching a rural area of southeastern Alameda County for the body of a nursing student who was last seen at a Hayward hospital , police announced Friday night.

A 35-person police team searched about 30 square miles of Niles Canyon, Palomares Canyon and ranchland off Mission Boulevard in Union City for San Mateo resident Michelle Le starting at about 8 a.m. Friday. The search ended at 6 p.m.

No body or other evidence was found, according to the Hayward  Police Department.

A Patch reader said she witnessed the search and believed police were looking for Le.

"It was very creepy. All I could think about was what the family must feel like when they see those search parties? It was even hard for me,  and I'm a complete stranger! It's just so obvious they are searching for her body, not for her rescue," the commenter, who goes by the name  Marie, said.

Friday's search was the latest of more than a half-dozen searches during the past two weeks.

Le's friends and family members at Mount Eden Park in Hayward and they are maintaining that she is still alive, and on Friday night they were in San Diego, where Le grew up and attended high school, with a group of 100 supporters.

At Hilltop Community Park in Rancho Peñasquitos, a suburb in northern San Diego where Le attended high school, attendees held flashlights inside of cups with messages for Michelle Le written inside, holding them toward the sky to help send her positive energy.

Though the message of the vigil was hope for Le's safe return, many family members broke down in tears throughout the night as they spoke of how their lives have been disrupted by her disappearance.

Thuy Le, Michelle's aunt who raised her and her brother Michael after their mother died of breast cancer when they were teens, struggled to contain her emotion as she recalled the last conversation she had with her niece.

"She's my daughter," Thuy Le said, choking up as she remembered the text message and phone call she received on Mother's Day from her niece.

Many spoke of Michelle Le's transition into nursing, following in the footsteps of her mother, as a natural extension of her caring personality.

Mai Dinh, Le's 15-year-old cousin, recalled fun family get-togethers with Le, bursting into tears as she pleaded for her cousin to come home.

"We have to radiate so much hope that we can bring her back," Mai Dinh said.

Le, 26, has been missing since about 7 p.m. on May 27 from Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center on Sleepy Hollow Avenue.

She told classmates she was headed to Reno after her rotation at the hospital. Le left during a break and never returned.

Investigators said they discovered compelling evidence that points to homicide.

Sgt. Steve Brown said investigators wanted to remain hopeful that Le was alive, but "based on all the evidence, we have the grim possibility that Michelle is dead and we should prepare for the worst."

Those with information about Le's disappearance are asked to call Hayward police at (510) 293-7000.

San Diego Patch reporter Shauntel Lowe contributed to this report.

Zinn June 11, 2011 at 05:27 PM
What is the "compelling evidence" and how does a female wearing nurse clothing just vanish from the face of the earth?
Mona Taplin June 11, 2011 at 05:55 PM
This must be a family's worst nightmare, wondering where she is and who is responsible for her disappearance.

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