February 1, 2007
Volunteer firefighters join Saturday search for missing studentWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
"These individuals know their townships and areas better than almost anyone," said Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg. "They will know where best to concentrate."
Drivers who have all-terrain vehicles or equestrians also are asked to help, focusing their attention on rural areas, while some volunteers on foot will search several areas, including the banks of the Wabash River, with an emphasis on the area between the West Lafayette Harrison Bridge and Branigan Bridge south of the city, Norberg said.
Steffey's parents are scheduled to be in West Lafayette, and his father will participate in Saturday's search.
Monty Eldridge, coach of the Purdue Rodeo Team, has offered a group of between 50 and 150 horseback riders. In addition, 10 to 15 other horseback riders and about a dozen ATV owners have registered so far for the search.
Police also are asking property owners to volunteer to have their private lands searched.
"If you have searched your land, please let police know," Norberg said. "Police are marking off every area that has been searched so they know where to most efficiently deploy resources.
"If you can't search your land, please contact police and give them permission to send volunteers to do so. They are interested in all land in Tippecanoe County, as well as the portions of Benton and Warren counties close to West Lafayette."
Volunteers are asked to call or e-mail the Wade Steffey Volunteer Center at (765) 496-2289, email@example.com, to provide their phone, cell phone and e-mail information so they can be alerted of plans for such mass searches. Those who can search on their own or who want to organize smaller group searches also can contact the center for suggested areas.
"Many are calling in for assignments, even if they just have an hour or so," Norberg said. "So far more than 300 people have listed their names with the center to be called when needed."
Those who can't search can help by providing gasoline cards to help defray ATV expenses or by supporting others who can search, she added.
The volunteer center, at the End Zone Cafe just north of Ross-Ade Stadium, will be open at 8 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 3). ATV and horseback searchers are asked to check in then. Those who will join in the foot search are asked to check in at 10 a.m. Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear very warm clothing, bring their own transportation and carpool. Police will not be able to provide transportation to search sites.
Wade Steffey, 19, has been missing since Jan. 13.
Other new developments
Next Saturday (Feb. 10) a 7:30 p.m. prayer vigil will take place in Steffey's hometown of Bloomington at the Evangelical Community Church, 503 S. High St.
How to help
Volunteer to search either in small groups or join the major search on Saturday (Feb. 3). Check in now at the volunteer center to get maps of areas to search or to sign up for alerts concerning major searches.
Check your own property, especially in rural areas, or call the volunteer center and invite searchers to help.
Watch for a Motorola cell phone, a wallet, items such as identification cards, a white shirt with blue stripes, shoes size 10.5 and light blue jeans size 30 by 32.
Check your personal vehicles.
Post fliers, available at the volunteer center or at Purdue's Visitor Information Center, located on the ground floor of the Northwestern Avenue parking garage.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Purdue Police Department at (765) 494-8221 or the anonymous tip line at (765) 496-3784. More than 150 tips have been called in already. Police also are asking that anyone who was in the Tower Acres area of campus from around midnight to 3 a.m. on Jan. 13 contact Purdue police.
What has been done so far
Investigators have interviewed scores of people and tracked down many of the tips. Their work continues.
More than 1,000 volunteers have taken part in ongoing searches of the campus and the surrounding area.
Boats and helicopters provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police have searched the Wabash River. Sonar has been used in some, but not all, of the waterways because of ice cover. More sonar testing will be done later.
The DNR also has offered its all-terrain vehicles for use in the search along the Wabash River banks. Other ATV owners and equestrians are searching large rural tracts at the invitation of property owners. The ATVs earlier searched an area near Purdue's tennis complex and the cross-country course, as well as along Cherry Lane.
More than a half dozen canine units have searched cars, campus, construction areas, golf courses, the tennis center, the 185-acre Celery Bog Nature Center, waterways and many buildings. Purdue staff have searched the campus, including tunnels, rooftops, utility areas and construction sites.
Video cameras were used to check drainage pipes and culverts on the university golf course, and Purdue Fire Department personnel searched drainage ditches in that area.
Police checked Steffey's ATM and credit card transactions, computer, cell phone calls and e-mail messages.
Landfill operators have marked the areas where Purdue trash was dumped for the week after Steffey's disappearance.
Area bus and train stations and local military recruiters were contacted.
Video surveillance cameras were checked.
Purdue issued a map of the area in which Steffey's cell phone was tracked before the phone's signal was lost Jan. 17, which includes the north end of the academic campus including Ross-Ade Stadium. The area is bounded to the west by Russell Street and runs north almost to Lindberg Road and east to Salisbury Street. The map and an image of the cell phone, as well as a flier, are available online with the news release at the Purdue home page, https://www.purdue.edu.
Public appeals for more information on the Steffey case have been made via all state media. The story has appeared more than 10 times on national television. Students have been spreading the word via Facebook, MySpace and a variety of Internet sites and blogs.
Information is being displayed on the Mackey Arena video screens during basketball games.
A reward is being offered for information concerning Steffey's whereabouts. The reward was established by family and friends and is being administered by Fifth Third Bank in Central Indiana. Donors should make their checks out to The Wade Steffey Reward Fund in Central Indiana, and donations can be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch. For information, call Fifth Third Bank in Lafayette at (765) 423-5557.
Students are selling T-shirts for $12 to raise funds for the reward. The front of the shirt has a photo of Steffey and the words "Have you seen Wade?" The back of the shirt has the words "Help find Wade Steffey," along with the phone number for the Purdue Police Department. To purchase a shirt, contact Wade's roommate, Ben Buckner, via e-mail to WadeShirt@purdue.edu. Buckner also said there are plans to sell the shirts at various campus locations.
Information about Wade Steffey
Steffey, a 19-year-old freshman, is a National Merit Scholar majoring in aviation technology. He was last seen early Jan. 13 and was reported missing Jan. 16 when his roommate returned to campus after the Martin Luther King holiday break.
Steffey attended a party at Phi Kappa Theta fraternity on Jan. 12 and was believed to have been last seen around 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 13 outside the doors of Owen Hall, where he had left his coat with a friend. At about the same time, he placed two cell phone calls to friends in Owen Hall, a short walk away from his room in Cary Quadrangle.
Steffey was last seen wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with light blue stripes and light-colored jeans. He is white with short brown hair and brown eyes, is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds.
The 39 officers in the Purdue University Police Department are being assisted the FBI and two former FBI agents from Team Adam, provided through The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All police agencies in Tippecanoe County and Indiana State Police are helping as needed.Steffey's information also has been added to the database for the National Center for Missing Adults as well as that for missing children.
Sources: Jeanne Norberg, (765) 491-1460, firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Center, (765) 496-2289, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/steffey-search.jpg
A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/steffey-prayer.jpg
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