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Mary Negrete continues search for her missing son

By Melody Hanatani

April 3, 2003 9:00 p.m.

On Dec. 10, 1999, the disappearance of a student living on
campus shocked the UCLA community. Three years later, detectives
say there is still no sign of Michael Negrete’s

But the search isn’t over.

Mary Negrete, the mother of the missing student, said she wants
everyone to know her son is still missing.

“I want students to keep their eyes and ears open,”
Mary said. “I don’t want it to happen to anybody

Several means have been used to increase awareness of
Negrete’s disappearance.

Since the disappearance, Michael’s case has been featured
on a number of television programs including “Extra,”
MSNBC’s “Missing Persons,” “National
Inquirer TV” and most recently Mary appeared on the
“The Montel Williams Show.”

Featured on the last show was renowned psychic Sylvia Browne.
During the show, Mary was told her son was still alive and residing
in the West Los Angeles area.

“He’s still around the UCLA or close to the UCLA
area,” Browne said on the Feb. 26 show. “In like
Brentwood, Westwood, around that same area. He’s not

Following the disappearance, a number of psychics have contacted
Mary claiming knowledge of her son’s whereabouts. Mary said
all cases have led nowhere and has trouble believing psychics.

“I truly don’t believe in psychics, but I went there
because I wanted the publicity,” Mary said.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get the kind of coverage she
wanted, and Mary was upset her son’s name was mentioned only
once during the show.

Another method used to increase public awareness is the Web
site, The site contains information about
Michael, including his physical characteristics and information
regarding the night he disappeared.

Also featured on the Web site is a police composite released in
June 2000. Mary asks students to take a look at the police sketch
and to be on the lookout.

“I want students to look at that picture and keep their
eyes open,” Mary said. “I still believe that there has
to be somebody close by, maybe somebody on campus, who could know
what happened.”

With time passing, Mary said the investigation has slowed down
quite a bit, and she feels she won’t get the outcome she
originally hoped for.

“We have two other children, and we want their lives to be
as normal as possible,” Mary said.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Detectives Bill Howell and Joe
Purcell have worked on the investigation since it changed from a
missing persons case to a homicide case.

Detectives have received 500 leads since the beginning of the
case, and none have uncovered any significant information.

“We’re baffled,” Howell said. “With 60
years between my partner and I, we’ve never seen anything
like this.”

Negrete disappeared in the early morning hours of Dec. 10, 1999.
A first-year student at the time, he spent several hours playing
computer games after returning from a party that night.

He was last seen at 4 a.m. on the sixth floor of Dykstra Hall.
Howell said there may be witnesses who saw a man matching his
description walking out the front door around 4:35 a.m.

Howell said that from the beginning of the investigation, there
was no indication Negrete was still alive. In the three years since
his disappearance, there has been no activity on his credit cards,
bank accounts, or Ralph’s club card. All of Negrete’s
possessions were left in his dorm room.

“Usually, when someone wants to disappear, they take
something they want,” Howell said. “Everything that
meant anything to Michael was left in the room.”

Though three years have passed since the disappearance, Mary
wants students to remember that her son is still missing and is
asking for their help.

“I want students to help me out. For UCLA students to
maybe help put up fliers,” Mary said. “I don’t
really believe what Browne said, but leave no stone

For more information, students can e-mail Mary Negrete at
[email protected].

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Melody Hanatani
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