Murder of Michelle Le

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Michelle Le
Born c. 1984/1985
San Diego County
Died May 27, 2011 (aged 26)
Hayward, California, USA
Giselle Esteban
Born Giselle Diwag Esteban
(1984-02-04) February 4, 1984 (age 31)
Union City, California, USA
Criminal penalty 25 years to life in prison
Criminal status Incarcerated
Conviction(s) First degree murder in the death of Michelle Le

Michelle Hoang Thi Le was a 26-year-old Vietnamese-American nursing student who disappeared on May 27, 2011, from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward, California.


Le grew up in San Diego County and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college and nursing school at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California.[1]


Le's car was found the morning after her disappearance around 9 am parked on Ponderosa Court, about half a mile from the medical center.

Her family put up billboards and offered a $65,000 reward for information about her whereabouts.[1] Over the next four months at least eight volunteer search efforts were undertaken, some organized by the Klaas Kids Foundation,[2] founded by Marc Klaas, after his daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993.

A variety of missing persons organizations joined in the searches. The eighth search found decomposed human remains in a remote canyon area on September 17.[3] On September 19, 2011, the Alameda County coroner's office positively identified the remains to be those of Michelle Le.[4]

Police suspected from the beginning that Le had been killed by someone she knew.[1] Giselle Diwag Esteban (born February 4, 1984) of Union City, California, a Filipino-American former friend of Le, was arrested on September 7 and charged with her murder, although a body had not yet been found at that time. Authorities said that they had DNA evidence in the form of blood stains found in Le's car and on Esteban's shoe, and that security video footage confirmed Esteban's presence in the area at the time Le disappeared.[5] Esteban allegedly blamed Le for ruining her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had a child, but denied any involvement in Le's disappearance. Esteban was indicted on a murder charge December 14, 2011.[6]


Esteban entered a not-guilty plea.[7] A trial date was set for September 17, 2012.[8] On October 29, 2012, a jury convicted Esteban of first-degree murder. At the December 10 sentencing, Esteban was given 25 years to life in prison.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b c "Family keeps hope for missing California student", UPI, June 20, 2011.
  2. ^ "Volunteers search Niles Canyon for Michelle Le", ABCLocal, June 18, 2011.
  3. ^ Lee, Henry K. (September 18, 2011). "Michelle Le search turns up body in Sunol Canyon". San Francisco Chronicle. p. A14. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Dolak, Kevin; McLaughlin, Erin (September 20, 2011). "Michelle Le Case: Missing Nursing Student's Body Identified". ABC News. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ Kurhi, Eric (September 14, 2011). "DNA evidence, surveillance footage led to arrest in Michelle Le case". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ Kurhi, Eric, "Grand jury transcripts show slain Michelle Le was subject of suspect's growing hatred", Hayward Daily Review, published by San Diego Mercury News, December 31, 2011.
  7. ^ Kurhi, Eric, "Esteban pleads not guilty to slaying of nursing student Michelle Le", Hayward Daily Review, published by San Diego Mercury News, January 20, 2012.
  8. ^ "Trial Date Set In Michelle Le Murder Case", CBS San Francisco, February 17, 2012.
  9. ^ Lee, Henry K. (October 29, 2012). "Woman convicted of stalking murder". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  10. ^ Lee, Henry K. (December 10, 2012). "Jelaous woman gets life for killing friend". The San Francisco Chronicle.