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February 5, 2007

Police move to smaller searches as bitter cold continues

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Wade Steffey
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Purdue University police are beginning to shift the volunteer efforts to find freshman Wade Steffey back to the police department just south of Intramural Drive and State Street.

"We will continue to use the End Zone Cafe just north of Ross-Ade Stadium as needed to coordinate large efforts, but until another major search is needed, the operation will be run from the department to make the best use of personnel," said Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg.

The center will be opened on an as-needed basis and fliers will continue to be available at the Purdue Visitor Information Center in the Northwestern Avenue parking garage.

"The End Zone location for the center is ideal for large searches, such as those conducted Saturday (Feb. 3) that included hundreds of volunteers on foot and scores with all-terrain vehicles and horses," Norberg said. "Such a large turnout really helped us focus on the Wabash River banks. Now, especially with the bitter cold weather, searchers will be asked to concentrate on smaller areas, which we can do best by deploying smaller groups."

Volunteers review a map
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To date more than 1,000 people have been involved in the searches.

"We are maintaining a list of the many who are willing to search or who want help searching their land," Norberg said. "Anyone who wants to be included should send their name, e-mail address, phone and cell phone numbers to police at volunteer@purdue.edu, or call police at (765) 494-8221."

Meanwhile, at least two efforts are under way to raise money toward a reward fund for information about the whereabouts of Steffey.

Musicians will perform Saturday evening, Feb. 17, at Puccini's, 300 Brown St., in the West Lafayette Levee, to raise money for the reward, said organizer Anna Hirst.

Team of horseback riders search
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Steffey's roommate, Ben Bucker of Bloomington, Ind., is selling T-shirts for $12 through the club associated with his housing unit, Cary Quadrangle. Shirts can be ordered through WadeShirt@purdue.edu. On the front of the shirt is 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.

Those who have donated time, talent, equipment

Assistance is coming from many directions. A partial list includes:

Pay Less

Marsh Supermarkets

Midwest Rentals Inc.

Lafayette Printing Co.

Custom Copies

U.S. FedEx Kinko's

Wal-Mart

American Red Cross

Purdue's End Zone Cafe

Tippecanoe County Geographical Information System

Clinton Prairie School Corp.

Purdue Rodeo Club

Dozens of ATV and horse owners

Arby's Roast Beef, Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, Papa John's Pizza, Coca Cola Co.

Purdue University Residences

Purdue University Residences Dining Services

Purdue Student Health Center Counseling and Psychological Services

Purdue Dean of Students

Cary Club

Community and Family Resource Center

All local, Indianapolis and Bloomington news media

WXXB/WKHY Radio

Hoosier Outdoor Advertising Corp.

Numerous canine units from around the state

Volunteers who helped with water and aerial searches

How to help

Volunteer to search either in small groups or join major search efforts as they are organized. E-mail volunteer@purdue.edu to provide phone, cell phone and e-mail information so you can be alerted of plans, or call police at (765) 494-8221.

Steffey family
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Check your own property, especially in rural areas, or call the volunteer center and invite searchers to help. Also check your personal vehicles.

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.

Post fliers, available at the volunteer center or at the 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.

Volunteers get search instructions
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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.

A team of 31 investigators from several area law enforcement agencies on Friday (Feb. 2) night canvassed West Lafayette rental properties that are within the area in which Steffey's cell phone was last known to have been operating. Officers interviewed residents and requested they check their homes and the surrounding areas for any items that could be connected to his disappearance.

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 numerous times. Sonar has been used in some, but not all, of the waterways because of ice cover. More sonar testing will be done later.

ATV owners and equestrians are searching large rural tracts at the invitation of property owners.

Prayer vigil
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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.


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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, http://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 12 times on national television. Students have been spreading the word via Facebook, MySpace and a variety of Internet sites and blogs.

Information has been displayed on the Mackey Arena video screens during basketball games.

Reward

A reward is being offered for information concerning Steffey's whereabouts. Established by family and friends, the reward fund 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. To purchase shirts, contact Wade Steffey'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.

Where Wade's phone was tracked
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Vigil planned

A prayer vigil will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 10) in Steffey's hometown of Bloomington, Ind., at the Evangelical Community Church, 503 S. High St.

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 investigators:

Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department

Lafayette Police Department

West Lafayette Police Department

Indiana State Police

Indiana Excise Police

Federal Bureau of Investigation

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Team Adam

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Source: Jeanne Norberg, (765) 491-1460, jnorberg@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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