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Family of woman missing in Hayward wants FBI to lead case

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, June 5th, 2011 at 7:45 pm in Hayward.

The family of Michelle Le, who disappeared May 27 while on a break from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward, issued a statement Sunday asking the FBI to take the lead in the investigation. Hayward reporter Eric Kurhi forwarded the statement to me, along with responses from Hayward police and the FBI.

Here are the three statements:

FAMILY STATEMENT FROM KRYSTINE DINH:

“Following Michelle’s vigil Friday, our efforts toward bringing Michelle home have been reinvigorated by the hundreds of supporters in attendance. Though we continue to stay positive and optimistic for her return, we need more resources and personnel with the highest priority to analyze the evidence to bring her home quickly. Currently, we only have family members, friends and volunteers helping us with media collaboration, search parties, and case updates.

Our family believes the Hayward Police Department is not adequately staffed and do not have enough personnel to work on a missing person case. We have been assured they have personnel working ‘around the clock’, yet only six personnel are assigned to the team, and of those, three recently went on vacation. We have also been assigned a new public affairs officer. Shockingly, the supervising investigator for Michelle’s case told our family they do not have much experience working missing persons cases. As an example, her apartment was not searched until Tuesday, 4 days after her disappearance, and whatever evidence they recovered from her car will take a month to process. The Hayward Police Department did put pressure on the lab to get it expedited, but even then it will take two weeks before any results come back. Though the FBI received her computers early in the week, they did not receive her cell phone records until Thursday. We believe that if personnel experienced in missing persons cases were assigned a lead role, evidence (like her cell phone records) would be analyzed expeditiously, and we would also see her picture and information posted on the FBI’s website under the Missing Persons link.

Further, we have not been given regular updates. At times, we have had to pull information from the Police; even now we have to wait through the weekend to receive our next update, which will be in the form of a public address, not directed personally to our family. We understand the importance of not compromising the investigation, as well as the importance of procedure. However, it fails to inspire confidence in their performance when they report to the media they have no new leads and have to wait for evidence analysis more than one week later.

We are asking the FBI to assume a lead role in the search for Michelle by providing personnel with experience in missing persons to the investigating team, and giving the evidence analysis the high priority to bring Michelle home.

Not only are our combined efforts gaining national attention, our grassroots efforts have garnered over 62,000 supporters on Facebook alone. We continually thank Michelle’s loved ones, the public, the community and the press for their efforts, and we hope to get some answers to everyone invested soon.”

HAYWARD POLICE STATEMENT FROM LT. ROGER KEENER:

“The search for Michelle Le has been a trying and exhaustive effort for her family, her friends, and the many investigative personnel who have worked on finding Michelle since she disappeared. Fueling the intensity of this investigation from the beginning has been the sincere hope from everyone involved that Michelle would be found and the case would conclude with a positive outcome.

We fully understand that Michelle’s family is very concerned and anxious for answers — anything that woud help bring Michelle home. We have spent several hours throughout the past week meeting with the family and we share in their frustration that Michelle’s whereabouts are still not known. We are investigating several leads in the case, many of which we have been unable to release publicly so as to not jeopardize our efforts in locating Michelle.

We will not rest until Michelle’s disappearance is solved. Investigators have been working this case around the clock since the disappearance. We can also confirm that the FBI has in fact been involved with this case since it began last Saturday, and continues to support us in our investigation. The analysis of forensic evidence has in no way hampered or slowed the investigation. To the contrary, the evidence has provided us with considerable leads in the case. We anticipate the possibility of providing a more detailed update on where we are with the case, most likely tomorrow afternoon.”

FBI STATEMENT FROM JULIANNE SOHN:

“We have been in constant contact with the Hayward Police since the onset of their investigation. We are working closely with them and we have made every appropriate resource available to them.”

I spoke with Dinh by phone after receiving the Hayward police and FBI statements. She said she was surprised they responded through the press instead of contacting the family directly.

Dinh also said the family would prefer that the police notify the family of any new developments first, before releasing information to the public.

“It’s been a week and two days,” she said. “We just want some answers.”

However, Dinh said her family greatly appreciates the support they have received from the community and they are grateful for the work the police and FBI have done so far.

“We feel frustrated, but very thankful,” she said. “We’re just hanging in there.”

Do you think the Hayward Police Department is handling this case appropriately?

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