Saturday, October 20

Anniversary of Negrete’s disappearance coming up


Investigation still hasn't yielded answers as to student's location

  UCPD Michael Negrete is still missing.

By Linh Tat

Daily Bruin Senior Staff


Police are not much closer to solving the case of a missing UCLA
student now than they were one year ago.

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the day Michael
Negrete, then a first-year student living in Dykstra Hall,
disappeared.

“The first thing that went through my head was why did he
go somewhere without telling me, and I was angry,” said Mary
Negrete, Michael’s mother, by phone on Tuesday night.

“My first reaction was that I was annoyed with him and I
was going to tell him off, but then he never came back,” she
continued.

Michael was last accounted for around 4 a.m. Dec. 10, when he
logged off a computer game he was playing with a friend down the
hall. He was last seen wearing a blue plaid shirt and khaki shorts.
He left behind his wallet and other personal belongings in his
room.

His disappearance at first generated a large community search
effort. Early in the investigation, bloodhounds from the Los
Angeles County Sheriff’s Department traced his scent from the
dormitory to a bus stop on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and
Bellagio Drive.

In June, detectives issued a questionnaire to all Dykstra Hall
residents about the day Michael disappeared.

After months without a solid lead, detectives released a sketch
in July of a man allegedly seen on Negrete’s floor the night
he disappeared.

The man, who was reportedly wearing a gray jacket with a
turquoise design, is described as white, 35 years old, 5 feet 7
inches, with a heavy build and no facial hair. Police are still
looking for him.

According to Sgt. Joe Purcell of the L.A. County Sheriff’s
Department homicide bureau, detectives came across the lead while
reviewing the questionnaires, but the student who provided the
information also came forward of his own accord. The student had
also contacted university police shortly after Michael disappeared,
Purcell said.

“He had tried to get the information to the appropriate
sources within a week of Mike’s disappearance, but there was
no action taken,” he said.

But UCPD detectives said they investigated the student’s
lead.

“The information was reported differently and that
information was followed up on,” said Terry Brown, a
detective with UCPD.

For the Negrete family, slow developments in the case have
tested their patience.

“Our lives are really disrupted by this, but we think we
need to provide a pretty stable life for our other two boys,”
Mary said.

“You would think that I would be more overprotective, but
we’re just trying to maintain a pretty normal relationship
with (the boys),” she said.

The family, which hired a private investigator early in the
case, established a Michael Negrete Search Fund to help pay for the
$100,000 reward offered for information leading directly to finding
Michael.

“We are considering that if the money never gets used as
reward money, the money may be donated to the two high schools
Michael went to,” Mary said.

The Negrete family considered holding a concert to observe the
anniversary of his disappearance, but decided against it.

“We thought we’d rather relax that day and not
relive the whole thing again. The last thing I want to do is relive
that day,” Mary said.

Though nearing the one-year mark of his disappearance, police
maintain that they will never close the case but acknowledge the
difficulty of finding leads now.

“Certainly the longer time elapses from the event to the
investigation, the more difficult it becomes because you
can’t recreate what happened originally,” Purcell
said.

At the peak of the investigation, seven detectives were working
on the case simultaneously. Now, police agencies like the UCPD may
receive tips, but Purcell and his partner are leading the case.

“Of course I want the investigation to be ongoing until
they find answers. I’m frustrated that they haven’t
found any answers,” Mary said.

Michael’s story is scheduled to air on the show
“Million Dollar Mysteries” on Fox next month.

His mother posted a note on a Web site devoted to finding
him:

“Michael: We love you, we miss you terribly, and we think
about you constantly. Our greatest wish is for you to contact us
and let us know that you are all right. We will never give up
looking for you.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the L.A.
Sheriff’s Department at (323) 890-5500. For more information
about the case, go to www.findmikenow.com.

NEGRETE CASE TIMELINE A look at some of the key
events in the search for Michael Negrete. Sunday marks the one year
anniversary of his disappearence. DECEMBER
10

Michael Negrete was last accounted for at approximately 4 a.m.
after logging off a computer game he had been playing with a floor
mate.

Bloodhounds from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department trace his
scent to a bus stop on the corner of Bellagio Drive and Sunset
Boulevard.

At the peak of the investigation, seven detectives were working
on the case simultaneously. This has been scaled down to one.

The family hires a private investigator.

An award of $5,000 is posted for information directly leading to
his whereabouts.

JANUARY 6 Parents cancel their
son’s housing contract and remove his personal belongings from his
room in Dykstra Hall. FEBRUARY Only one detective
remains working on the case part-time.

Mary Negrete writes a chain letter via e-mail, asking for the
public’s assistance.

MARCH 25 Michael’s birthday;
family travels to San Bernardino to attend the Orange Show
Speedway, where one competitor completes a parade lap with
Michael’s picture on the truck. APRIL The family
increases reward money to $10,000. JUNE
5 The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department issues a
questionnaire to all Dykstra Hall residents regarding the day of
Michael’s disappearance. 6 Mary Negrete holds a
rally at the Dykstra Hall patio.

More than $19,000 raised to date through the Michael Negrete
Search Fund.

JULY 17 Detectives released a
sketch of a man wanted for questioning. Original graphic by ADAM
BROWN/Daily Bruin Web adaptation by MICHAEL PARKER

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.