East Bay News

Police confirm body found is Michelle Le

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Police confirm body found is Michelle Le Splitscreen of Giselle Esteban and Michelle Le

Monday night, the Alameda County coroner confirmed that the remains found Saturday morning in Niles Canyon are those of missing nursing student Michelle Le.

The process of identifying the body was expected to take longer than just a few days, but the coroner did not have to rely on DNA testing. Hayward police haven't said how the coroner's office identified the skeletal remains, but it is likely they made the match through dental records, since DNA tests typically take weeks.

A volunteer search team discovered the body in a wooded area near Pleasanton Sunol Road. Now, that it's been identified as that of Le, the next step is to figure out how she died.

"Part of what they're going to do is a detailed analysis of the corpse and the body to see whether there's a head trauma, a skull fracture, to explain how did the death occur," defense attorney Steven Clark said.

Le's family released a statement soon after the identification of the body was announced. It said, "We ask for privacy and respect during this difficult time, as we are grieving and preparing a memorial service for her -- a proper goodbye."

Earlier on Monday, the young woman suspected of killing Le, Giselle Esteban, made her second court appearance in Hayward and was charged with murdering Le. Cellphone records showed Esteban in the same wooded area when Le disappeared.

Pregnant with her second child, 27-year-old Esteban did not enter a plea, but was appointed an attorney who asked for more time to review the case.

"All I can say at this point is that I've just met Ms. Esteban and so I really don't have anything substantive to say at this point," defense attorney Andrea Auer said.

On Saturday, a searcher found human bones in the hills near Sunol. Volunteer John Hayes says a month ago he and others searched near where the remains were found, but not the exact area.

"You just hope when you go through this, the searchers say, you hope when something's discovered you hope it's not in an area that you were in because it's not a good feeling; that's all I can say, it's not a good feeling," Hayes said.

Police have said in the past even without a body they have plenty of evidence implicating Esteban, who told ABC7 in May she openly hates Le.

The evidence includes video surveillance from Kaiser Hospital Hayward showing Esteban was present before and after Le disappeared and Le's DNA on Esteban's shoe.

Esteban is due back in court next week.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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michelle le, missing person, crime, murder, trials, east bay news
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