And while the news is grim for the family, which refused to give up hope that the missing nursing student might be found alive, the community is hoping the sad news will help her survivors find closure.
Lt. Roger Keener of the Hayward Police Department told KTVU Tuesday morning that he hopes the discovery helps the family move on in the grieving process.
“I can’t stress enough how much perseverance the Le family has shown,” Keener told KTVU in its morning news report. “If it wasn’t for the persistence of Michelle’s family and their desire to bring her home I don’t think we’d have this piece of the puzzle yet.”
The Le family, which hired a private investigator and organized multiple searches of the East Bay in the past few months, requested that they be left to grieve privately and expressed gratitude for the relentless support from friends, law enforcement and the community at large.
“Please continue praying for and supporting Michelle as our family begins the journey to ensure justice in her honor," said Krystine Dinh, Le's cousin, in a family statement issued Monday.
Le, 26, of San Mateo was a nursing student who was last seen alive on May 27 while she was attending clinical rotations as a part of her curriculum at Samuel Merritt University.
Patch assembled the following timeline of the events surrounding Le's disappearance, the arrest of a suspect and the discovery of her body:
May 27: , 26, was last seen at 7 p.m. at Kaiser Hospital, 27303 Sleepy Hollow Ave. South, in Hayward. Le went to her car during a break from a nursing course and never returned.
May 29: Hayward police search the Union City home of Giselle Esteban, an acquaintenance of Le's and mother of a 5-year-old child.
June 1: Police announce they detained Esteban, again searching her Union City apartment and seizing her cell phone and laptop. She was later released.
June 2: KGO-TV reports that Esteban told ABC7 News by phone that she “openly hates Michelle” but had nothing to do with her disappearance.
June 3: More than 200 people gather in Hayward to show their support for Le.
June 5: Family members of Michelle Le . It's reported that video surveillance shows Le’s car, a white 2010 Honda CR-V, was driven out of the parking garage at Kaiser Hospital. (The car had previously been found in a nearby neighborhood.)
June 6: Hayward police say they believe Le was killed and again Police say they believe the incident is a homicide, based on forensic evidence collected from her car and the Kaiser hospital parking structure; information collected during interviews; examination of evidence gathered via search warrants; review of video footage from the garage and other locations; and examination of Le's cell phone records.
June 10: , combing 35 miles of rural areas from Mission Hills to Niles Canyon for potential evidence. Police focused on that area because Le's iPhone "pinged" within a 10-mile radius of Union City and Fremont following her disappearance.
June 13: Le's , focusing on the areas near Kaiser Hospital and Ponderosa Court, the residential cul-de-sac where Le's car was later found.
June 16: Hayward police turn over new video surveillance recordings of the Kaiser garage to the FBI.
June 17: The family organizes with help from 450 volunteers plus the KlaasKids Foundation, Team Amber and the G.I. Joe Search Foundation. Relatives say Hayward police provided the family with specific areas to search.
June 21: Le's family announce they of the Danville-based The Framé Group to act as a conduit for information and to provide another avenue for anyone with information on Le's case to step forward anonymously.
June 27: One month passes since Le’s disappearance.
July 11: The family announces it is offering a for information leading to Le’s safe return.
July 27: Hundreds gather at since Le went missing. Police say the case remains the “No. 1 priority” for investigators.
July 31: Hayward police release a statement saying in the Le case.
Aug. 2: Esteban — who had a restraining order issued against her on May 24 by her ex-boyfriend — gets . The ex-boyfriend, who is the girl's father, reported increasingly bizarre behavior by Esteban in time period before Le disappeared, including stalking him, threatening to shoot herself and entering his home uninvited.
Aug. 20: The Le family, in conjunction with the KlassKids Foundation, holds the seventh search for Le.
Aug. 27: Family and friends gather and release balloons to signal the three-month mark since Le went missing.
Sept. 7: , 27, in front of her Union City home. She is booked at Santa Rita Jail on one count of murder. Police say evidence led them to Esteban’s arrest. That evidence includes:
- Bloodstains from Le's blood inside of Le’s abandoned vehicle.
- Security camera footage from Kaiser showing that Esteban had been in the parking lot before and after Le’s disappearance.
- Physical evidence that Esteban had been inside Le’s vehicle.
- Cell phone records and cell tower activations that show Esteban and Le’s phones “traveled on a similar path” from Kaiser to other Alameda County locations shortly after Le’s disappearance.
- A pair of Esteban’s athletic shoes recovered during a search of her home with Le’s DNA.
Sept. 8: Esteban's arraignment is. According to media reports, Esteban is 7 months pregnant.
Sept. 9: Esteban is She is asked if she wants to hire an attorney or be represented by the public defender’s office. She answers, “I’m not quite sure,” and her case is assigned to the public defender’s office.
Sept. 12: A public defender appears in court on Eseteban’s behalf and says he has not received discovery material from prosecutors. Esteban’s . Relatives of Esteban make their first public appearance but decline to speak with media.
Sept. 16: The Le family in hopes of finding closure. It's their first public acknowledgement that Le may not be alive.
Sept. 17: On the second day of the search, a member of the Le search team in a wooded area off Verona Road in Sunol. Police immediately call it a crime scene and begin investigating.
Sept. 19: The Alameda County Coroner’s Office Earlier that same day, Esteban appeared in court. Her plea hearing was again delayed and rescheduled for Sept. 28.