Body found in search for missing nursing student

September 18, 2011 - 10:55 AM
Body Found

Hayward Police officers are seen along a dirt road near Pleasanton Sunol Road at Verona Road where a body was found in Pleasanton, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. Authorities are trying to determine if it may be the body of missing nursing student Michelle Le, who disappeared on May 27. A former friend, Giselle Esteban, 27, was arrested Sept. 7 on suspicion of murder.(AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Anda Chu)

SUNOL, Calif. (AP) — The family of a missing California nursing student waited for news Sunday on whether a body found by a volunteer searcher is that of the 26-year-old woman, who disappeared in May.

It is the eighth search the family has organized. The body was found late Saturday in a remote area of Alameda County in the same area where police say a former friend dumped Michelle Le's body, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/ouPS4e ). The remains were so badly decomposed that investigators were not immediately able to determine if the remains were those of a male or female.

Le, 26, disappeared on May 27 when she took a break from her nursing classes at a Hayward hospital.

Giselle Esteban was arrested earlier this month and has been charged with murder in the case.

Police believe Esteban, a former friend of Le's from high school in San Diego, attacked Le in a Hayward hospital parking garage more than three months ago.

Le was last seen May 27 at the hospital where she was doing a clinical rotation. She had told colleagues she was going to her car and never returned and her locked Honda SUV was later found a half-mile away.

Esteban, 27, is due back in court Monday after a judge postponed a plea hearing so she could get an attorney. She was being held without bail.

Esteban told KGO-TV in June that she hated Le because Le was friends with the father of Esteban's 5-year-old daughter. But Esteban denied having anything to do with Le's disappearance.

Hayward police Inspector Fraser Ritchie wrote in an affidavit released earlier this month that video surveillance footage shows Esteban at the scene before and after Le's disappearance.

Police said they found traces of Le's blood inside her SUV and physical evidence that Esteban had also been inside the vehicle, as well as Le's DNA on one of Esteban's shoes.

Cell phone records also show that both women's phones had "traveled on a similar path" from the hospital to other locations in Alameda County immediately after Le disappeared, the affidavit said.