HAYWARD (CBS SF) – A former high school friend of a missing Hayward nursing student has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Police in Union City arrested 27-year-old Giselle Diwag Esteban in the death of 26-year-old Michelle Le , who was last seen May 27 leaving Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center where she was doing a clinical rotation.

Le’s body has not been found, but police have classified the case as a homicide. Le’s family is still holding out hope for her safe return, family members said at a news conference at police headquarters Wednesday afternoon.

Missing Student Michelle Le

Missing student Michelle Le. (family photo)

Le disappeared on May 27 from Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center. She left the medical center around 7 p.m. that day, telling a classmate she was going to go to her car during a break, Lt. Roger Keener said.

She never returned. Her instructor later went to the parking garage looking for her and called police to report her disappearance.

Le’s car was found the next morning around 9 a.m. parked on Ponderosa Court, about half a mile from the medical center, Keener said.

He said investigators found bloodstains in the vehicle, and it was later determined that the blood was Le’s.

Keener also said footage from security cameras at the Kaiser Permanente parking structure showed that Esteban was present around the time of Le’s disappearance.

Additionally, he said, evidence found inside Le’s car indicated that Esteban had been in the vehicle.

He 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, Keener said.

He said police won’t stop looking for Le until they find her.

“It may only be Esteban that can tell us where Michelle is,” he said.

Esteban will be booked into Alameda County Jail on the murder charge. Keener did not discuss a possible motive in the case.

“We could speculate as to the motive, but it may only be answered by Esteban herself,” he said.

Police believe that an assault occurred in the parking garage, but no weapons have been found.

The FBI assisted in the investigation by processing evidence at its Menlo Park crime lab.

Stephanie Douglas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office, said Le is the niece of a local FBI employee.

Le’s brother, Michael Le, and her cousin, Krystine Dinh, attended Wednesday’s news conference wearing T-shirts with Michelle’s photo on the front.

“No one should have to deal with a loved one missing,” Michael Le said. “We just want her home as soon as possible.”

He said Thursday is his 24th birthday, and that his sister would always call him on his birthday to say, “I love you.”

“I just want to hear her voice so badly,” he said. “The only thing I wish for is to have her come back home.”

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Dinh said, “This isn’t over until Michelle’s home. We want her to graduate from nursing school in four months and celebrate her birthday next month and Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all the Thanksgivings and Christmases after that.”

Le’s family had been offering a reward amount for her return or for information regarding her location to $100,000.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. Anonymous says:

    I think Michelle is dead, as much as I’d hate to say it. The family should be preparing a funeral, instead of holding out hope that will soon be broken. My condolence to the Le family.

  2. Larry Tucker says:

    Police have only revealed a part of the evidence they believe points to murder. Is the DNA on Esteban’s shoe skin cells or blood? The only evidence mentioned says they had an encounter. It does not say what happened yet..

    If the police used cell phone pings to know where they traveled why didn’t they find a body?

    The reports of Esteban’s declining mental condition is troubling. She may have encountered a little known problem and acted out the delusions it can cause. At first It seemed like Le had experienced a fugue episode that happens to students every semester. VisionAndPsychosis_Net

  3. Selina says:

    I heard that Esteban was angry at Le b/c Le stole her boyfriend and she wanted to exact revenge. Violence is never the answer and now look at where Esteban is.

    1. Anonymous says:

      True, violence is never the answer, but Esteban still hasn’t explained her side of the story. We only know it from the Le’s family side. True, Esteban had no reason to murder Le, especially over something dumb like boyfriends, but maybe the judge will give Esteban a rest, if she tells them the truth.

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