A volunteer searching for missing nursing student Michelle Le found a body in the Niles Canyon/Sunol Canyon area late this morning, Hayward police said today. The body was found near Pleasanton Sunol Road at Verona Road around 10:30 a.m. by a member of a search team, police Lt. Roger Keener said. It was located in a brushy area near a dirt road, in an unincorporated area between Pleasanton and Sunol.
The body was decomposed and the gender remains unknown at this point. Le’s family has conducted regular searches for her since she went missing on May 27, with the help of the Klaas Kids Foundation and community volunteers. Hayward police had an investigator on the scene of the search, but called in the Sheriff’s Department since the area where the body was found is in that agency’s jurisdiction. Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said the agencies would conduct a joint investigation until it is determined whether or not the body is Le. Le, 26, a San Mateo resident, was last seen May 27 at Kaiser Hospital at 27303 Sleepy Hollow Ave. South in Hayward, according to police.
Le was at the hospital taking a class, which is part of a nursing course she was enrolled in with Samuel Merritt University in Oakland. She told many classmates she was planning to drive to Reno after class. She left class 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 bloodstains that were later found to be from Le. A former friend, Giselle Esteban, 27, was arrested Sept. 7 on suspicion of murder.
Police said footage from security cameras at the Kaiser Permanente parking structure showed that Esteban was present around the time of Le’s disappearance. Additionally, evidence found inside Le’s car indicated that Esteban had been in the vehicle. Police also said cellphone records show from wireless tower activations that Le and Esteban traveled along the same path leaving the area just after Le’s disappearance. Police served a search warrant at Esteban’s house on May 29 and found a pair of athletic shoes, one of which contained Le’s DNA.
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