HAYWARD -- Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped from her Petaluma home in 1993 and later found strangled, is now helping the family of missing nursing student Michelle Le.
Early last week, Le's family contacted the KlaasKids Foundation, which was founded in 1994 to stop crimes against children. Klaas said a search-and-rescue expert with the foundation will fly in this week to help in the search for Le.
"It's a case that deserves to be solved," Klaas said. "As long as the family stays proactive, there will be attention on this case. We're here to help them, to give them support, to achieve that goal."
On Sunday afternoon, Klaas was present when about 10 of Le's family members congregated at the Kmart parking lot on Mission Boulevard in Hayward to gather missing-person fliers with Le's picture on them and a promise of a $65,000 reward.
Family members were planning to distribute the fliers at Niles Canyon and at homes around Ponderosa Court, where Le's car was found, as well as the surrounding area.
Le, 26, was last seen at 7 p.m. May 27 after she took a break during a nursing class at Kaiser Medical Center at West Tennyson Road and Hesperian Boulevard in Hayward, not far from where her car was found.
Hayward police have since classified Le's disappearance as a homicide and last week investigators searched for her remains in Niles Canyon and other rural areas in southeastern Alameda County. Family members say they're going to continue searching for Le with the belief that she's still alive because they haven't been presented with evidence showing otherwise.
Captions on eight electronic billboards in the Bay Area with Le's photo have been changed from "Missing" to "The search is not over." Family members held vigils Thursday in Hayward and Friday in San Diego, where Le grew up.
She moved to the Bay Area after graduating high school in 2002 to attend San Francisco State, said cousin Krystine Dinh. Le began taking an accelerated nursing program with Oakland-based Samuel Merritt University six months ago.
"We thank the public, we thank the community," said brother Michael Le.
"It's amazing to have so much support in our efforts. It's really what keeps our family going."
Police have twice searched the home of a "person of interest" in the case -- a former friend of Le's, whose erratic and threatening behavior prompted a restraining order against her three days before Le vanished. That person will also likely be the focus of the search-and-rescue expert who will be looking for leads on Le's whereabouts this week, Klaas said on Sunday.
Klaas said the foundation's work will not interfere with the police department's investigation. However, he added that while police are focused on solving the case, Le's family is focused on bringing the woman home. "I think those (goals) are exclusive of each other," he said.
For more information about the family's search for Michelle Le, go to www.michellelemissing.com.