HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. – A missing College of New Jersey senior whose purse was found on a walkway of the George Washington Bridge had been feeling a lot of stress, said her father, who worried her disappearance may have had something to do with her birthday.
Paige Aiello, whose 22nd birthday was Thursday, was reported missing two days earlier by her family in Hillsborough after she apparently took her mother's car, without permission, authorities said.
That night, a passer-by reported finding her purse, cellphone and car keys on the south walkway of the bridge.
Authorities searched the Hudson River and both levels of the bridge and did not find anything.
Late Wednesday, authorities found the missing car at a parking garage in New Brunswick, next to the train station.
Christopher Aiello said it was believed she took the train to New York.
Aiello told New York radio station WCBS that his daughter, a co-captain of the school tennis team who also worked several jobs, had done "incredibly well" in high school and college and was accepted to nine law schools, but she was feeling under a great deal of stress and was living at home for added support.
"She had hit almost like a wall where she felt she was not maybe either worthy of all this or she just couldn't handle it," he told WCBS.
He said his message all day had been: "Not only do we have to be watching our children that are not doing well and getting in trouble, but we have to see and watch the kids that are the overachievers. They have a self-imposed stress. You don't need a parent to be constantly on their back if their stress is internalized."
With Paige's birthday being Thursday, Aiello asked: "Is that a meaningful date in her mind, if she didn't want to celebrate it? You know, I just don't know what I am supposed to say."
Aiello said he was encouraged that no one reported witnessing anyone jumping from the George Washington Bridge. He said he was worried that without a cellphone, she could just be wandering around.