BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A maintenance worker found a shoe belonging to a missing Purdue University student near a utility room where his body eventually was found, a spokeswoman for the university said.
But searchers didn't immediately link the plaid-lined slipper to Wade Steffey when it was found on Jan. 23, 10 days after the 19-year-old Bloomington man vanished.
"Obviously, it's something that we wish — in hindsight — had made us look more closely," Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said Tuesday.
Steffey was fatally shocked Jan. 13 when he entered a Purdue dormitory, Owen Hall, through an unlocked exterior door to a utility room and came in contact with an electrical transformer, authorities have said. Investigators believe he was trying to find a way back into the dormitory to retrieve a jacket he left there.
After weeks of searches of the campus and surrounding area, Steffey's body finally was found in the utility room on March 19.
Numerous items of clothing were found and stored as potential evidence, Norberg said. The shoe was covered in leaves and debris and looked as if it had been outdoors more than 10 days, she said.
Purdue officials were investigating to find out how the equipment room was left unlocked. They also were putting warning signs on outside doors to rooms containing high-voltage equipment.