A body found stuffed into the wall of a building at Yale University is believed to be that of graduate student Annie Le who was last seen at the lab in New Haven five days ago, cops said late Sunday.
"We are assuming it is her at this time, and are treating this as a homicide case," police assistant chief Peter Reichard said.
Cops made the grisly discover at the lab that Le frequented on what would have been the bride-to-be's wedding night.
Scores of investigators searched for the 24-year old pharmacology student since she went missing last week and spent Sunday scouring a Hartford garbage dump trying to find her remains.
"It is my tragic duty to report that the body of a female was found in the basement of the Amistad Building late this afternoon." Yale President Richard C. Levin e-mailed to the Yale community.
"An identification and autopsy will be undertaken by the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Our hearts go out to Annie Le's family, fiancé and friends, who must suffer the additional ordeal of waiting for the body to be identified."
Le, of Placerville, Calif., was to be married Sunday in Syosset, N.Y., on Long Island's north shore. New Haven police said they have contacted her family and have assumed control of the investigation, which is now being treated as a homicide.
State police found the body at around 5 p.m. Sunday in an area of the building that houses utility cables that run between floors.
Le was last seen Tuesday morning in the building. Surveillance video shows her arriving around 10 a.m., but police had been baffled since the investigation began because there was no video of Le leaving, despite some 75 surveillance cameras operating around the complex. Her ID, money, credit cards and purse were found in her office.
More than 100 local, state and federal police had been searching the building for days, using blueprints to uncover any place where evidence or Le's body could be hidden.
FBI agent Bill Reiner said investigators were searching the Maxim Road facility in an effort to "follow the trash" that left the Amistad Street building where Le was last scene Tuesday. He would not comment further.
Bloody clothes and other evidence of a crime were found inside the Yale University building where Le was last seen, police sources confirmed Saturday.
Sources said the evidence was discovered in a ceiling at the Yale building at 10 Amistad Street. The potential evidence is being analyzed, but hasn't been connected to Le, according to FBI spokeswoman Kim Mertz Saturday.
Police said fiance Jonathan Widawsky, a Columbia University graduate student, is not a suspect and is assisting with the investigation.
Just after her disappearance, investigators said the petite student had written an article about how to stay safe on campus. Called "Crime and Safety in New Haven,'' it was published in February in a magazine produced by Yale's medical school. It compares higher instances of robbery in New Haven to cities that house other Ivy League schools and includes an interview with Yale Police Chief James Perrotti, who offers advice such as "pay attention to where you are'' and "avoid portraying yourself as a potential victim.''
"In short, New Haven is a city and all cities have their perils,'' Le concludes. "But with a little street smarts, one can avoid becoming yet another statistic.''
Le was excited about getting married and is energetic and conscientious, said Debbie Apuzzo, who works in the pharmacology department.