HAYWARD, Calif. – Relatives of a Northern California nursing student who disappeared 11 days ago said Tuesday they are holding out hope for her safe return even though police believe the 26-year-old is dead.
Michelle Le's father said that he feels Hayward police have given up on finding his daughter alive without providing conclusive evidence to support their decision Monday to reclassify the case as a homicide.
"To us, if you call something murder case, you have to have a body," Son Le told reporters outside the police station.
Michelle Le was last seen May 27 leaving a Hayward hospital during a break from a clinical rotation. Her locked car was found several blocks away.
The decision to label the case a homicide was based on forensic evidence from Le's car, surveillance footage outside the hospital, cell phone records and evidence collected during search warrants, said Capt. Darryl McAllister.
He said that despite the new classification, there would be no reduction in the number of investigators assigned to the case.
Police have questioned more than 25 people and identified several persons of interest, but no arrests have been made.
Le's younger brother, Michael Le, said that family members have been "frustrated by the lack of information" they have received from investigators surrounding the homicide classification. He said the family was given no more details than the general public received.
McAllister said that earlier reports that the family has been critical of his department were understandable, but that investigators have a reason for holding some details back.
"I have the highest regard for this family," he told The Associated Press on Monday. "But there are some questions you just can't get answers to. We are well into this investigation and still have a lot of work to do."
McAllister did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the family's latest statements.
Also on Tuesday, Samuel Merritt University, where Le was participating in an accelerated bachelor's degree program, posted a message of remembrance on its website.
"For a brief moment in time, Michelle Le, a beautiful, kind-hearted, energetic, and compassionate young woman graced us with her presence," said the statement from Sharon Diaz, the Oakland university's president. "The pain we feel is indescribable."
Le's family is offering a $65,000 reward for information leading to her return. Relatives plan to keep distributing fliers in the neighborhood where Le went missing, Son Le said.
"There's still a lot more work that needs to be done," he said. "Please do not give up hope, because we know we still believe she is alive."
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