After more than three months of investigation and no significant leads, members of a coalition that wants to help with the search for missing Penn State student Cindy Song, complained about a lack of progress in the investigation.
At a press conference, the coalition, which is made up of Penn State students, alumni, community members and family members of the missing 21-year-old, all expressed their qualms about the case and the lack of leads that have been produced in the 93 days since her disappearance.
"Words cannot begin to express the agony the Song family has felt since the disappearance of their daughter," said Jin Han, family spokesman. "This has been compounded by the poor investigation."
The investigation has been plagued by few leads, causing some to wonder if the Ferguson Township Police Department and the FBI are using all of their resources on the case.
Han pointed out that when Alicia Kozakiewicz, a 13-year old from Pittsburgh, disappeared on New Year's Day, the FBI put 50 agents on the case. He also pointed out that Kozakiewicz was found in three days in another state.
"It is time a true investigation be commenced," he said.
The investigation, which has struggled to make much progress, had one major lead that fell through.
According to Han, a woman in Philadelphia claims to have seen Cindy Song in a car in early November. The woman, who was walking her dog, heard a woman crying "Help me, please help me." The woman claims that when she went to do so, the man driving the car told her to get away.
The woman contacted police in the area, but no complaint was filed.
When investigators learned of this lead they traveled to Philadelphia to conduct a probe.
After further investigation, the police found that the woman's reports were conflicting, and were unable to pursue the lead, said Ferguson Township Police Chief Edward J. Conner.
"We have done everything humanly possible," he said. "We share the frustration with the family."
Connor said there are many regulations that investigators must follow that the family is not aware of. For instance, to obtain Cindy Song's bank records, Connor said the department needs a federal court order.
"I am not sure that the family understands the procedure we must follow," he said.
"There are people with their own agendas jumping on the bandwagon. I just wish they could get their facts straight," Connor said. "If they wanted to help, we would like that."
Some students interested in the search, such as members of Black Caucus and the Korean Undergraduate Student's Association, also expressed dissatisfaction with its progress at yesterday's meeting.
"Cindy Song is somebody's child; she is someone's sister; and she is someone's friend," Black Caucus Vice President Takkeem Morgan said. "There is a lack of urgency in this case, and that is unacceptable."
Rumors that police are dropping the case are untrue, Connor said.
"The case will never be closed. We will inactivate the case when we have nothing else to go on," he said. "Unless we arrest someone or we find her closed is not an option."
Some students also criticized the university for its role in the case.
"When a student becomes missing, it is the university that is responsible for the safe return of that student," Morgan said.
Penn State spokesman Steve McCarthy disagreed with students who said that university officials were not doing everything in their power.
"We have met on numerous occasions with the FBI, the Ferguson Township Police Department and the family," he said. "We have followed to the letter what to do with this."
Tysen Kendig, another Penn State spokesman, said administrators met with Cindy Song's family after yesterday's press conference. During the meeting, the university offered Cindy Song's mother an on-campus apartment as well as a computer access account.
They also contacted their own security officials about looking at Cindy Song's e-mail account. In the event that any suspicious messages are found, they will be immediately forwarded to the Ferguson Township Police Department, Kendig said.
The university also plans to hang more posters, as well as placing photos on the Penn State Web site's portal.