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Search for Airman missing since drunken soccer party in Italy halted

MILAN - Italian law enforcement authorities have called off the search for a missing airman in the area where he disappeared in northern Italy after failing to find any leads, a U.S. Air Force spokesman said Sunday.

Italian police searched for three days the area where Staff Sgt. Halex Hale was last seen July 2 before suspending the operation Saturday evening, Capt. Michael Hertzog said.

"They found no evidence of any kind, physical or otherwise," Hertzog said.

Hale, a 24-year-old from Middletown, Indiana, is assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base north of Venice, and was last seen at a friend's cookout in Sacile, about nine miles off base.

A carabinieri source confirmed to CBS News' Anna Matranga that Hale was inebriated on the night in question, and that he stayed at a friends house near a canal. The working hypothesis is that he fell into the canal, which empties into the Livenza river, which was swollen due to stormy weather.

Hale's mother, Amy Hale, told The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, that her son left the cookout on foot to visit another friend's home about 15 minutes away but never arrived. She said her son had been in the Air Force for six years and at Aviano since February 2015. He also served in Afghanistan.

Hertzog couldn't comment on cellphone, credit card or automobile use, saying they were part of the ongoing investigation. He said there were no indications that Hale had any difficulties on base or off.

Hertzog said the investigation is complicated by the fact that Hale disappeared on the night of the Italy-Germany match in the European soccer championship tournament, and the streets were teeming with people.

Italian police have circulated a missing person's bulletin on national media as well as to law enforcement in neighboring countries.

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