Assistant Police Chief Noble Wray acknowledged to reporters Thursday "there may be inconsistencies" in the probe of Audrey Seiler's disappearance — but he said the hunt was still on for the suspected abductor.
Police released no details to explain why the University of Wisconsin-Madison sophomore walked out of her apartment about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, as shown on surveillance video, or how she had been freed when found in the marsh about two miles away Wednesday.
The story of her disappearance generated nationwide news coverage, and the attention continued with the case cloaked in mystery after her safe return. Some questioned whether the abduction even happened; police and others said they had no reason to doubt it.
"Some of the story doesn't add up, some of the pieces just don't add up," private investigator Steve Watson told CBS News Early Show National Correspondent Jon Frankel.
"There's only one person that truly knows if this is a hoax and that's Audrey," he said.
Frankel reports some in Madison say police may be reluctant to call this a hoax, because several years ago police accused a rape victim of fabricating her crime and then found her story to be true.
Wray, who declined to take questions after Thursday's late afternoon news conference, said it was not the role of police to speculate until an investigation is complete.
"Like in every other major investigation, there may be inconsistencies," Wray said. "But we are continuing forward with this investigation."
"People here in Madison, and other parts of the country possibly, are asking what happened and 'is she making it up? Did this really happen?'" Wisconsin State Journal crime reporter Barry Adams said Friday on The Early Show.
"It's human nature, I guess," Adams told co-anchor René Syler. "Until we get some evidence, the rumor mills are going to fly and that's just what happens in these kind of cases until we get more information."
The sketch shows a white, clean-shaven man with a long chin, wearing a stocking cap. A caption describes the man as in his late 20s to early 30s. He has a stocky build and stands between 5-foot-10 inches and 5-foot-11 inches tall.
Police refused requests from The Associated Press to release the tape of a 911 call from someone who reported seeing Seiler in a marsh south of campus, leading authorities to find her.
They also declined to release the police report from a previous incident in which Seiler was attacked.
Seiler, of Rockford, Minn., said she was struck from behind and knocked unconscious Feb. 1 while she was walking near her apartment. Someone then moved her about a block, but she was not sexually assaulted or robbed, authorities said. The attacker wasn't found.
Police got their first chance to interview Seiler at length Thursday. Spokesman Larry Kamholz said she was cooperative and police had no reason to doubt she had been kidnapped.
She had spent Wednesday night with her family at an undisclosed location after her release from the hospital.
"We wanted to give her time to refresh, time to spend with her family," Wray said.
She remained at an undisclosed location Thursday.
When she was found Wednesday afternoon, officers with guns drawn surrounded the marshy area looking for the suspect. Officers were back at the scene Thursday looking for clues, with the area cordoned off by police tape and several squad cars nearby.
Department of Revenue spokeswoman Eva Robelia said a worker at the agency's building, which stands next to the marsh, was walking on a footpath on her lunch hour when she spotted Seiler and called police. Robelia said she was instructed by police to say nothing else about the case. The worker's name was not released, and the department said she didn't want to be contacted by reporters.
A high-level police source told CBS affiliate WISC-TV that the DOR worker must have talked to Seiler in the marsh. Seiler allegedly told the woman she was a college student and she goes to the marsh to relax. The woman told the 911 dispatcher she also saw Seiler on Monday and Tuesday.
A second high-level police source told WISC-TV that Seiler seemed surprised about all the attention.
The Rev. Greg Fairow of Calvary Lutheran Chapel in Madison had visited with dozens of Seiler's family members and friends as they searched Madison's neighborhoods Tuesday and Wednesday before she was discovered. He said he had numerous intimate conversations with them and nobody ever mentioned anything that caused him to doubt Seiler's story.
"If there was a problem with Audrey that would have caused her to fabricate or manipulate, a possible reason would have come out ahead of time. Nobody told me anything."