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FBI, police search for evidence, remains in Redwood City in Ylva Hagner case, Stanford student missing since 1996

FBI, police search for remains in Redwood City in Ylva Hagner case, missing since 1996
FBI, police search for remains in Redwood City in Ylva Hagner case, missing since 1996 03:48

BELMONT -- Authorities were conducting a search for evidence and possible remains in Redwood City related to the disappearance of Ylva Hagner, a Palo Alto resident and Stanford student missing since 1996.

Belmont Police said the activity was happening at Stulsaft Park on the 3700 Block of Farm Hill Blvd. in Redwood City. The park was closed during the activity and police said it would be re-opened later Wednesday morning.

FBI agents remove paving stones from the yard of a home on the 3700 block of Farm Hill Blvd. in Redwood City, May 10, 2023. CBS

Adjacent to the park, FBI agents and evidence technicians were seen removing paving stones from a yard at a home on Farm Hill Blvd. and it appeared a digging operation was set to begin.

The San Mateo District Attorney's Office and the Belmont Police Department have confirmed that the search is connected to Hagner's disappearance.

"The case has been refocused and we are conducting an investigation in Redwood City into the whereabouts of Ylva Hagner," said Belmont Police Lt. Pete Lotti. "In the hopes of bringing some closure in the case."

Lotti didn't say what clues led them to this area or why this house is connected to the case, but he confirmed that the investigation was ongoing.  

Property records show the Farm Hill Blvd. house was purchased by Thomas Pressburger in March of 1996, about seven months before Hagner disappeared. The San Francisco Chronicle named Pressburger as Hagner's boyfriend at the time. He is still listed as the property's owner.

Raw video: Search for remains in Redwood City in Ylva Hagner case 02:12

The 42-year-old Hagner was last seen on Oct. 14, 1996 at her place of employment, IXOS Software, a software firm located in Belmont at the time.  The last person known to see Hagner was an executive of the company, who departed from the office at 9:30 p.m., leaving Hagner alone to finish her shift and lock up.

Ylva Hagner California Department of Justice

"Ylva was working Silicon Valley type hours, coming in late, working late," Mike Speak, a Belmont Police Detective who was assigned to the case, told the San Mateo Daily Journal in 2017.  "So it was not unusual for her to be working that late."  

Her black 1992 Honda Civic with the California license plate number 2BBS966 was discovered abandoned on October 17, 1996, three days after she initially disappeared.  The car was unlocked and the keys were still in the ignition.

Her disappearance set off a massive effort to locate her.  Missing person flyers were distributed around the Bay Area.

Originally from Sweden, Hagner was unmarried and renting a house in Palo Alto with two roommates at the time of her disappearance. She was studying for a master's degree in liberal arts at Stanford.

Wednesday's search happened blocks away from where Carolina Aburto works as a babysitter.

Aburto, who is originally from Mexico, expressed her concern about safety in the country and how the thought of anything happening worries her, especially because she has two children.

Aburto feels connected to Hagner's story because Hagner was also an immigrant from Sweden. Despite the 27 years since Hagner's disappearance, Aburto hopes this new search can bring some closure to the family. 

"Why does it take so much time to find a body?" Aburto said. "It's too long without knowing what happened to this woman."

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