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Reward Offered In Case Of Missing Hayward Nursing Student

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Missing Student Michelle Le

Michelle Le (Family photo)

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HAYWARD (CBS SF) – The family of a Bay Area nursing student who disappeared during a break in class is offering $20,000 for information that leads to her safe return.

Michael Le announced the reward Monday night for his sister, 26-year-old Michelle Le, four days after her disappearance from Kaiser Hospital in Hayward.

Her locked Honda SUV was later found a few blocks away. She had told classmates she planned to drive to Reno, Nev., later that evening to visit friends.

Police believe Le had her cell phone with her when she disappeared, but calls to the number have gone unanswered.  Detectives also were checking several surveillance cameras in the parking structure.

“She didn’t deserve to have this happen to her,” Michael said while fighting back tears Monday. “I just, I just want her home.”

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Police say she was last seen around 7 p.m. Friday as she headed to the parking garage at the hospital. Michelle Le never returned from a break and her car was later found a few blocks away. She had told classmates she planned to drive to Reno, Nev., after class to visit friends.

“For her this is very unusual,” the young man described his sister. “She’s very responsible. Much more responsible than me.”

Hayward police Lt. Roger Keener said detectives were looking into a possible connection between Le’s disappearance and a similar case in Fairfield, about 55 miles away, that remains unsolved.

Hayward police have reached out to authorities in Fairfield investigating the April 25, 2010, disappearance of nursing school graduate Bichphuong “Phuong” Le, who was 24 at the time and no relation to Michelle Le, Keener said.

“Our initial gut feeling is there is no connection, but there are so many similarities that we would be remiss to close our minds on this,” Keener said. He pointed out that the two women have the same last name and both studied nursing.

Phuong Le’s body was found in rural Napa County 12 days after she disappeared outside a Fairfield bookstore. Her unlocked car was left in the parking lot.

Fairfield police Sgt. Randy Boggs said investigators have processed more than 100 pieces of evidence and followed up on more than 300 tips related to Phuong Le’s death. The case remains an active investigation, though no suspects have been identified.

Michelle Le was about halfway through a 12-month accelerated bachelor’s degree program at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, said university spokeswoman Elizabeth Valente. The program combines classroom work with clinical training, which is what Le was doing at the time of her disappearance, Valente said.

Le was well-liked among the school’s nearly 1,400 students, Valente said, describing the young woman as “a ray of sunshine” with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for nursing.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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