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At Least 15 Questioned In Search For Missing Bay Area Nursing Student

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Missing Student Michelle Le

Michelle Le (Family photo)

HAYWARD (KCBS / AP) – Authorities have issued search warrants and interviewed 15 to 20 relatives and acquaintances as they search for an East Bay nursing student who went missing five days ago during a break from a clinical rotation, police said Wednesday.

Some of those questioned in the disappearance of 26-year-old Michelle Le were considered persons of interest, but no arrests have been made, Hayward police Lt. Roger Keener said.

One person was brought to the police station for questioning and later released. Keener did not identify the person.

“Our overarching goal here is to find Michelle and to find out why she’s missing,” Keener said, noting that former boyfriends were among those interviewed.

Le was last seen Friday evening heading to a parking garage at Kaiser Hospital in Hayward. Her locked Honda SUV was later found a few blocks away.

Police believe Le had her cell phone with her when she disappeared, but calls to the number have gone unanswered.

Police say that Le’s cell phone was active until midday Saturday, some 20 hours after she went missing.

Pings were detected in Fremont, Union City and Oakland. But Keener said they are still looking to pinpoint the exact locations in those cities.

“We’re hoping that there’s going to be enough information from the cell phone records so that we can move forward into a specific location with every hope of finding Michelle,” said Keener.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Keener said detectives are still going through surveillance footage from the hospital’s parking garage, where Le’s car was parked and where she told classmates she was headed.

“There are 17 different cameras in that parking structure. We have to look at the video that’s available for each of those cameras,” said Keener. “We have not completed that effort. Some of that video has to be viewed in real-time so that we don’t miss anything.”

Evidence sent to a lab from Le’s car, which was found two blocks away, is expected back in two weeks.

Michelle Le’s father traveled from Vietnam to assist in the search. The family has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to her safe return.

Keener played down a possible connection to another case that remains unsolved in a city about 55 miles from the spot where Le disappeared.

Authorities in Fairfield are 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.

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.

Despite the similarities between the two cases — including the same last name and the nursing connection — Keener said the information available does not point to a direct connection.

“While we can’t eliminate it 100 percent, we are probably not going to focus on that direction,” he said.

(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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