Published September 14, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Police are searching for a 24-year-old graduate student at Yale University's School of Medicine who vanished days before her wedding.
Annie Marie Le, who is supposed to be married on Sunday, has not been seen or heard from since Tuesday morning, according to the Yale Police Department.
Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security operations, said there is no evidence of foul play in Le's disappearance, but declined to elaborate because the investigation is ongoing.
The FBI and the Connecticut State Police are assisting the Yale Police Department in the search for Le. State police with bloodhounds combed the area where Le was last seen, Yale Police Chief James Perotti said in a statement.
Investigators went to the missing student's last known location, 10 Amistad Street, late Wednesday night but didn't find her.
A 2007 graduate of the University of Rochester who is now studying for a doctorate in pharmacology and molecular medicine, Le began the day Tuesday working in her lab at the Sterling Hall of Medicine, said University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer.
Le left the lab sometime Tuesday morning to walk the three blocks to the Amistad Street facility where she frequently works on experiments, Lorimer said.
Le brought her Yale identification card with her — records show that she swiped it at the building's entrance about 10 a.m. — but left her purse with her cell phone, credit cards and money in her Sterling office, Lorimer said.
Several students and workers confirmed that there was an unexpected fire alarm in the Amistad Street building at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and it was evacuated.
Lorimer said the university has scanned footage from security cameras but hasn't been able to confirm that Le left the facility after she entered it.
“We have been looking now at all of the tapes of every exit and entrance over the entire 24 hours, just to see if there’s any information we can give to the law enforcement agencies,” Lorimer said.
Her fiance Jonathan Widawsky, a graduate student at Columbia University who attended Rochester with her, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, though an NBC affiliate station in Connecticut reported that he was in New Haven helping with the search on Wednesday.
Le worked in the lab of Anton Bennett, an associate professor of pharmacology. Police confiscated her belongings from that lab yesterday and were still examining her lab space Tuesday evening.
Bennett, for his part, said he was first contacted by police late Tuesday after Le’s roommate reported her missing.
He emphasized that his eight-person laboratory team, of which Le is a member, works closely together and, as such, her colleagues noticed her absence quickly.
“There was certainly immediate concern about her whereabouts,” Bennett said. “And they grew over the course of the day,” especially after she missed a pathology class for which she is a teaching assistant.
Bennett described Le as an extremely diligent and well-organized student. He added that she was always aware of her surroundings and took appropriate precautions when leaving the lab late at night.
Le was excited about getting married and is energetic and conscientious, said Debbie Apuzzo, who works in the pharmacology department.
School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said he was notified about Le’s disappearance late yesterday afternoon, just before the Department of Pharmacology met and was briefed on the situation.
“The biggest thing we’re worried about right now is, ‘Is she okay?’ ” he said.
Le is of Asian descent and has brown hair and brown eyes. She is 4-foot-11 and weighs 90 pounds.
Anyone with information on Le’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Yale Police Department at (203) 432-4400.
The Yale Daily News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.