Incinerator Searched for Missing Student

A cloud of unanswered questions continues to hang over Yale University this evening - with another day of campus rumors and uncertainty - as the search for a missing graduate student goes on.

Investigators sifted through garbage at an incinerator Sunday, looking for clues into the disappearance of a Yale University graduate student Annie Le, who was supposed to be celebrating her wedding day.

FBI agent Bill Reiner said Sunday that investigators are "following the trash" that left the university laboratory in New Haven. He declined to comment further on the search at the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority's trash-to-energy plant in Hartford.

Le, 24, was last seen Tuesday morning at the lab. More than 100 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies are looking for her but have not yet determined if Le's disappearance is a missing person's case or an act of foul play.

Authorities say Le, a pharmacology doctoral student originally from Placerville, Calif., swiped her identification card to enter the lab. But despite some 75 surveillance cameras, there is no record of her leaving the complex. Her ID, money, credit cards and purse were found in her office.

Yale is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Le's whereabouts.

Le, who's of Asian descent, stands 4 feet 11 inches and weighs 90 pounds. She was to marry Columbia University graduate student Jonathan Widawsky on Sunday at the North Ritz Club in Syosset, N.Y., on the north shore of Long Island.

Police say Widawsky is not a suspect and is assisting with the investigation.

Investigators on Saturday said they recovered evidence from the Amistad Street building that houses Le's laboratory, but would not confirm reports by media outlets that the items included bloody clothing.

In a story published Saturday, the Yale Daily News quoted an unnamed New Haven Police Department official as saying the bloody clothes were found in a ceiling at the building. The official spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

On Sunday morning, a state police Major Crimes Squad van drove down a ramp into the basement area of the building where the lab is located. Officials had no immediate comment.


Yale In Crisis Mode

In the heart of New Haven, Yale is one of the city's oldest institutions . . . and one of the largest, with more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff - and its own police force.

It is the alma mater of presidents, corporate executives, world leaders - distinctions the university eagerly promotes.

But the mysterious and troubling disappearance of doctoral student Annie Le - with intensive media coverage of the investigation - is unwelcome publicity, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

In a series of e-mails, university officials have urged students and faculty not to speak to " ... Reporters (who) can be very aggressive in situations like this where there are more than questions than answers." The e-mail urges Yale to "... Channel all communications with the media through the ... Office of Public Affairs."

Many at Yale followed the directive, as when we approached one group with questions.

"Yale has a major crisis on its hands," said crisis management expert Mike Paul of MGP & Associates.

He said the school is in a difficult situation: "Instead of us thinking about an Ivy League institution and an excellent education, we're thinking about crime and safety."

Three days after Le's disappearance, Chief James Perrotti of the university's police department sought to reassure the campus: "We are fortunate that we have many physical security items in place to help us with this investigation, including over 70 cameras in the area of the Amistad Building, card access control ..."

The concern reaches far beyond the campus. "Parents are calling in to see if you're safe," grad student Jean Lopez. "Everyone's making sure you're not alone late at night."

Lopez is a Yale graduate who now attends the medical school.

"I took the Yale shuttle last night and it was packed. So I think everyone is making better use of those services."

Today, authorities continue to work in the laboratory where Le was last seen - while other investigators poured through garbage at a Hartford landfill - looking for clues.

Back on campus, Jeanine Schenone, a student at the Yale School of Divinity, expressed a common hope:

"I am praying for her and her family and for her fiance and his family, and hoping that she is found safely."

"Are you concerned about your safety in your daily activities?" Pinkston asked.

"No, I'm not. But I know people who are, and that's why I hope she's found safe."

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