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*  Steffey Family
*  Jan. 18 Search
*  Jan. 20 Prayer Vigil

The search for Wade Steffey

Wade Steffey
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Wade Steffey, a 19-year-old freshman from Bloomington, Ind., has been missing since Jan. 13. A National Merit Scholar majoring in aviation technology, Steffey was reported missing on Jan. 16 when his roommate returned to campus after the Martin Luther King holiday break.

Steffey attended a party in the Tower Drive area Jan. 12 and was believed to have last been 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.

How to help

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

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

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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 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.


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.

Puccini's, 300 Brown St. in the West Lafayette Levee, donated a portion of all proceeds from a Feb. 17 event to the fund, said Anna Hirst, one of the organizers. The event also included local band Dr. Fine & d'Gleet and a raffle.

Steffey's roommate, Ben Buckner of Bloomington, Ind., is selling T-shirts for $12 through the club associated with his housing unit, Cary Quadrangle. Shirts can be ordered via e-mail at The shirts also will be available for purchase from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Purdue Exponent, next to the Northwestern Avenue parking garage.

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.

Yellow plastic bracelets with black print that reads "Find Wade Steffey" are being sold for $3 each to raise awareness and nearly $3,000 for the reward fund. Each includes the phone number for Purdue police. To order by mail, send $3.40 for each bracelet to Anna Hirst, 1018 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette, IN 47906.

What has been done so far to search for Wade

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 Feb. 2 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.

Team of horseback riders search
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ATV owners and equestrians are searching large rural tracts at the invitation of property owners.

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,

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.

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

Those who have donated time, talent, equipment

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

Burkhart Advertising Inc.

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


Dairy Queen

Papa John's Pizza

Coca Cola Co.

Pay Less

Marsh Supermarket

Midwest Rentals

Lafayette Printing

Custom Copies

Fed Ex-Kinkos




Dr. Fine & d'Gleet

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


Hoosier Outdoor Advertising Corp.

Numerous canine units from around the state

Volunteers who helped with water and aerial searches

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Pictured is a Motorola E815 V CAST phone from Verizon like the one being carried by Wade Steffey when he was last seen.


A team of horseback riders fan out across a field on Feb. 3 as they search for items that could help investigators determine the whereabouts of missing Purdue freshman Wade Steffey. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger) 

Purdue Police Chief Gary K. Evans instructs the more than 300 volunteers who answered a call for assistance on Jan. 18 to help find missing student Wade S. Steffey. Volunteers searched several areas in and around the campus. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at

Purdue police Capt. Tim Potts, at left, gives search instructions to those attending a Jan. 20 prayer vigil for missing student Wade Steffey. Following the vigil, which was led by Purdue students Sarah Kelzer and Brooke Anderson (at far right), police led volunteers in a search for Steffey's cell phone. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at

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