03-06-2009, 10:39 PM
Originally posted by: rozey, moved here for discussion
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 1, 2001 from State College, Pennsylvania
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: February 25, 1980
Height: 5'1" - 5'3"
Weight: 110 - 130 lbs.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Characteristics: Pierced ears and navel.
AKA: "Cindy". Middle name may be spelled "Jung." First name
may be spelled "Hyunjong" or "Hyunjung".
Clothing: A costume, which consisted of a pink sleeveless shirt
with a rabbit design imprinted on the front, rabbit ears, a white
tennis skirt with a cotton bunny tail attached to the back, brown
suede leather knee-high boots and a red knee-length hooded parka.
Case Number: 3701-3711
03-07-2009, 09:51 PM
Monday, Oct. 31, 2005 ]
Song's name, case fading after 4 years
By Greg Latshaw
Collegian Staff Writer
Four years after Penn State student Cindy Song first disappeared, the last vestiges of those who knew her are leaving Penn State.
Many incoming students have little or no knowledge of the missing Song, who was last seen in 2001 on Halloween night when she entered her State College Park apartment at 4 a.m.
Jeffrey Lucci (freshman-engineering) was a high school freshman when Song disappeared.
"I don't know the name," he said.
Ferguson Township Police Detective Brian Sprinkle, who has been the lead investigator on the case from the start, said he has no new leads. There are no leads forthcoming, and there never was a very good lead, said Sprinkle.
"Not at this point do I have any hope that she'll turn up alive," he said.
For younger Penn State students, the categories of awareness range from those who have never heard of her to those who need their memories jogged on details of the case. In either situation, Cindy Song is not a name that jumps to mind.
Alison Popowicz (junior-marketing) did not recognize the name until the details of the case were explained to her.
"I knew of that story, but since I wasn't up here at the time, I probably didn't know it well," said Popowicz. "I probably heard it from somewhere back in Pittsburgh."
Danielle Klein (sophomore-psychology) thought for a second when told the name. Then her eyes widened when he she learned the details of the disappearance.
"Wow, I don't know who she is; I've never heard of it," Klein said.
Song's disappearance was once featured on the TV shows Without a Trace, Psychic Detectives and Unsolved Mysteries, but media coverage has now come to a halt with no new progress in the case.
At one point, police called in Los Angeles psychic investigator Carla Baron to help with the investigation. That was in 2003, and no new leads resulted from it.
Yong Ma, Penn State Asian Pacific American Coalition spokeswoman, said she remembers seeing pictures of Song all over campus when she first came to Penn State.
She said that now, around Halloween, Penn State students should concentrate on promoting awareness of Song's disappearance.
"We want people to remember her story so that this same thing doesn't happen again," Ma said.
Song's family could not be reached for comment. Her mother, Bansoon Song, has returned to South Korea after initially moving to State College for the investigation.
Kristin Williams (senior-education) said she remembered Song because the police were looking for her at the time she first came up to Penn State in the fall.
"I really didn't hear about it after my sophomore year, so I wouldn't think that incoming students would know about it," Williams said.
Sprinkle said the last development in the case was two years ago, when the department received a tip that Song's body was one of the five bodies found on the property of a Wilkes-Barre man. This proved to be false.
Sprinkle is the only member of the Ferguson Township Police Department on the case. He is aided by the Pennsylvania State Police.
He said that until something turns up, the case will always remain open.
03-07-2009, 09:52 PM
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2001 ]
Friends worry about missing PSU student
The woman failed to attend work and her cell phone is turned off.
By Lynne Funk
For The Collegian
The 21-year-old Penn State student who has been missing for one week today, used the adjectives "independent" and "responsible" to describe herself on her personal Web site.
Cindy Song, who likes dance and paintings and aspires to become a graphic and fashion designer, was reported missing by a close friend Saturday after she had not heard from her since Wednesday night. Song has not been seen since the early hours of Thursday when she was returning to her apartment on the 300 block of West Clinton Avenue.
"We were supposed to go out on Thursday," said Stacy Paik, a close friend of Song's. "I tried to call her all day and her phone was off. It's just kind of strange -- she usually calls me."
Although Song does sometimes leave without telling her friends, it is not characteristic of her to be gone for the amount of time she has been missing, Paik said. Paik is not, however, ruling out the possibility that Song picked up and left for a few days.
"I guess that's what we're all hoping. We really have no clue," Paik said.
Paik and Song work together on Fridays at the Seoul Garden Korean Restaurant, 129 Locust Lane, Paik said.
Song never showed up for work Friday and that's when Paik became nervous.
"The whole day I was worried. She's usually really responsible for work," she said.
Restaurant owner Song Yu verified that he has not seen Song within the past week.
Ferguson Township Police Det. Brian Sprinkle said police are continuing the investigation.
"We are continuing a very thorough investigation," Sprinkle said.
More details will be released this week, Sprinkle said.
Song was born in Seoul, Korea and moved to Springfield, Va., where she went to high school, Paik said. According to Song's Web site, she is an international student orientation leader, a member of the Korean Undergraduate Student Association and a Red Cross volunteer.
Paik asked people to keep watch for Song and report any knowledge of her whereabouts to police. "If anyone knows anything or saw her — it would be nice to know," Paik said. Police ask anyone with information to call 1-800-479-0050.
03-07-2009, 09:54 PM
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003 ]
Chasing a mystery
Prolonged silence has lowered hopes of finding Cindy Song alive
By Mike Walbert
Collegian Staff Writer
The vast field behind State College Park apartments is sprawling with bright green rolling hills. Sprouts of wild grass shoot up in sporadic clumps throughout the field in between the bare trees that have changed with the season.
It's quiet here. The silence is deafening.
Police once searched this area behind where she used to live, hoping to find a solid clue as to her whereabouts. A psychic brought in by lead investigators relayed vivid images of the field and provided some tips with the intent of sparking a new lead.
They all led to the same place, though -- a puzzling dead end.
Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of Hyunjung "Cindy" Song's disappearance. The friendly, outgoing 23-year-old integrative arts major -- who kept creative scrapbooks packed full of past concert tickets and family photos, whom some describe as a survivor and an optimist -- simply vanished that fateful early morning on Nov. 1, 2001.
Today, a team of investigators from the Ferguson Township Police Department -- headed by the case's lead investigator Det. Brian Sprinkle -- will travel to Wilkes-Barre, in Luzerne County, in an attempt to crack any new leads in the case. They will look at evidence at suspected killer Hugo Selenski's property, where the bodies of five victims have been found, and where Paul Weakley, an alleged accomplice-turned-informant says Song is buried.
"[The Wilkes-Barre investigation] is switching gears from a homicide investigation to a missing person investigation," Sprinkle says.
Meanwhile, for nearly two years, a closely-knit college community has sat by idly, anxiously waiting to hear something -- anything -- of Song's whereabouts.
How could an attractive, smart Penn State student just up and disappear in this area? She couldn't have been kidnapped or murdered. No one wanted to think about that being a possibility because it just never happens here -- ever.
The hope and optimism that was so incredibly strong in the months following Song's reported disappearance has slowly begun to dwindle. Some still hold faith that she's alive and that she will be found someday, safe and sound. Others have slowly, over the years, prepared themselves for the worst.
Others yet have come to a much grimmer conclusion.
"Cindy's dead," Sprinkle says. "I don't have any belief that Cindy is alive."
Oct. 31, 2001
It started off as any other Halloween night for college students usually does. Too old to trick-or-treat and too young to stay in, there was excitement to dress up and go out on the town with friends. A week of classes and stress needed an intervention of relaxation, and this Wednesday night would be just that for Song and the rest of Penn State.
Her costume was all in place. She'd be a Playboy bunny -- with a little bit of flair. She wore a white skirt that had a cotton bunny tail attached to the buttocks. Her pink sleeveless shirt had an embroidered image of a bunny on it, matching nicely with her red knee-length hooded coat and brown suede knee-high boots. A pair of bunny ears delicately sitting on her head and black false eyelashes topped her ensemble off.
The costume was complete. It was the last thing Song would be seen wearing.
The night began at Players Nite Club, 112 W. College Ave., where the popular downtown dance club was holding a big Halloween party. She and her friends danced and partied late into the night, staying until about 2 a.m.
The group then left Players, moving throughout downtown. They made stops at The Americana, 119 Locust Lane, and then to Park Hill, 478 E. Beaver Ave., for some post-Players fun.
A trip to the South Garner Street Uni-Mart between 3 and 4 a.m. was the last activity of the night. Song's friend, Stacey Paik, gave her a ride home to her State College Park apartment around 4 a.m. on Nov. 1
Then, she was gone.
"I tried to call her all day, and her phone was off," Paik said a week after the disappearance. "It's just kind of strange -- she usually calls me."
Youngjoo "Catherine" Kim roomed with Song that fall. The two had been acquaintances for a little while, but were never close friends. Then in the summer of 2001, Song and Kim began to spend more time together and bonded. They decided they would become roommates and move into State College Park apartments together for the fall 2001 semester.
That fall, Kim, now 23, experienced some family problems back home in Philadelphia and had to leave for an extended period. But she kept in touch with Song and, two days before she vanished, Kim spoke with Song on the phone. Song wanted her to come for Halloween to participate in the festivities, but Kim said she'd wait until the next day -- Nov. 1.
That day, Kim arrived as planned. Her roommate, however, was unusually absent.
"I was expecting her to be there," Kim said. "But she wasn't."
Finally, the news filtered its way to Kim, who found herself in disbelief. Cindy was nowhere to be found.
"I was actually not thinking anything happened to her," she said. "I just didn't want to think that anyone kidnapped her or anything."
On Nov. 3, Song was reported missing to the Ferguson Township police. Investigators searched her apartment Nov. 6. There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle. Everything seemed to be in place, nice and neat.
Her wallet, purse and keys were missing. But those were items Song would've taken with her. Things didn't add up.
Where could Cindy have gone?
"She just literally vanished. That's just what I'm thinking," Kim said. "Can people just evaporate into thin air? It makes me think like that."
Following news of Song's disappearance, police hotlines rang off the hook. Tips from all corners of the state began to flood in. Investigators, enthused and optimistic that they could find the missing integrative arts major, sifted through the mounds of information, looking for that small key to unlock the mystery.
The feeling that Song had just left town for a few days, that she would jingle the keys to her apartment and step back into everyone's lives again, was compelling.
Her picture was plastered everywhere. Posters, Web sites, newspapers and television broadcasts. The HUB-Robeson Center, Willard Building, telephone poles downtown. They all showed Song's cherubic face -- with her rosy red cheeks and glimmering smile -- in the hope that the image would spark someone's memory.
Perhaps they had seen her coming out of Players. Maybe they had caught the briefest of glimpses of her in the Uni-Mart. Or maybe they had seen her after 4 a.m., when Song's trail went absolutely cold.
Bansoon Song, Cindy's mother, traveled from Seoul, South Korea and set up home in State College, hoping, waiting all the while. She wanted to be a part of the investigation and wanted to be here when her daughter was eventually returned safely.
Bansoon attended vigils for her missing daughter, usually with her head down and shoulders slumped.
"My life is my family and to not know what happened to my only daughter is devastating," she said at the time.
It was very tough for Bansoon, coming to a foreign land and not having a strong grasp of English or knowledge of the American judicial system. She couldn't understand -- why couldn't Cindy's phone records be accessed immediately by police? What were police doing?
The months passed. Gradually, they turned to years. Tips began to dry up quickly after the initial downpour.
Her face and physical features -- 5'1" tall, 115 lbs., brown eyes, jet-black hair -- were again publicized on national television to get any minute detail that could solve the case.
Unsolved Mysteries, Court TV's Psychic Detectives and CBS' Without A Trace all came calling, offering to lend a hand and bring the case to an American audience. All led to not much more than a handful of calls and even fewer substantial leads.
There was the false tip where a female caller identified herself as "Cindy." Then there was the possible connection to four college-age adult disappearances scattered throughout the Midwest. And then there was the witness who was possibly seen with Song in Philadelphia shortly after her disappearance.
All the while, frustration mounted.
Sprinkle, the lead investigator, had been under an immense pressure to find Song, all while having to address the widespread media coverage and the constant questioning of the police's procedures.
"This is the first case of this magnitude that I've handled," he said. "We get missing Penn State students all the time. But come Sunday night, they come back for a class on a Monday morning."
In his office sits a waist-high black metal bookcase jammed with more than 30 oversized three-ring binders, all containing the words "Cindy Song" and "missing person" on their bindings.
The frustration reached him, to a degree.
"It bothers me, but it bothers me more on the professional level ... As a person, I do feel for the family, for Cindy, for whatever pain she went through," Sprinkle said. "But this is a case, this is my job. I'm upset on the merits of the case."
Which makes what happened in January 2002 that much tougher for him to swallow and where a deep communication rift developed between the two parties.
After four months of no real hard information surfacing, the Song family unleashed a scathing criticism of the investigation -- in particular the Ferguson Township police and the Pennsylvania State Police -- at a Jan. 31 press conference.
"Words cannot begin to express the agony the Song family has felt since the disappearance of their daughter," Jin Han, a New York-based attorney and the family's spokesman, said at the time. "This has been compounded by the poor investigation."
"It is time a true investigation be commenced," he added.
However, the Song family failed to mention a large mistake that occurred during the crucial early days of the investigation.
Just days following investigators' first search of the apartment, the Songs entered Cindy's apartment and cleaned it, possibly wiping away crucial evidence -- a fact that was never publicly revealed by investigators until now.
"They entered the apartment and cleaned the apartment," Sprinkle said. "We extended a courtesy and we found out very quickly that it backfired."
Add to that the large cultural gap between investigators and the Song family, most of whom were based in South Korea and just weren't used to the American way of things.
The public lashing by the Song family was too much for investigators. All direct communication between Ferguson Township authorities and the Songs was terminated in February 2002.
"We did it for Cindy's sake in the case and not the family," Sprinkle said. "We pretty much cut them off."
A clearer picture?
There was a long lull in any activity following the breakdown between investigators and the Song family.
Then, in early August 2002, investigators, who were struggling to crack any new leads, turned to nationally known psychic Carla Baron for help. The self-described clairvoyant, utilized by law enforcement across the country, came to State College to "fill in the blanks."
Recently, investigators seeking psychic expertise have become more common in solving a case similar to this.
"There's been departments working with psychics going many years back, but they just won't admit it," Sprinkle said.
The danger in using a psychic, though, is that the information provided is greatly untested within the judicial system.
"I don't think you'd ever be able to base a case or search warrant on a psychic," Sprinkle said. "Nobody knows how a jury's going to react."
Regardless, the high-profile nature of the Song case was nothing new to Baron. The Los Angeles-based psychic had provided some helpful information in the Elizabeth Smart abduction -- correctly "reading" that the 13-year-old was still alive -- and had been involved in numerous other missing person cases.
The only difference, in this case, was the time period. Baron generally gets called into action days or weeks after missing person reports are filed. In the instance of Song, Baron came into the fray nearly 10 months after the Penn State student's disappearance.
The time lapse makes it more difficult for Baron to get a strong read, especially when the details or evidence of a case are fresh.
"We (psychics) should be brought in earlier," she said.
Baron's visions come to her like dreams. At times they're disjointed, jumbled and "weird." But she never discards them, never brushes them off as some fanciful imagery -- for in her mind, any small flash of pictures can be a key component to finding a missing person.
"You don't know what it means," she said. "You're sitting there scratching your head, going, 'What the h**l does that mean?' But you log it like any psychic does."
Baron began to see visions relating to the case. The number 15 was very prominent, as was the field behind Song's apartment. Very few leads came from those.
And then came the carving.
One day, Baron glimpsed an image of a carving in a tree. She thought it could've been on a tree in the field behind the apartment, so she asked Kim to search for it. Kim found it in less than 45 minutes of searching the large field.
The symbol spelled out some Japanese slang. The words read "song bird," a nickname Baron had given to Song early in her involvement with the case.
The tree, with the eerie carving, was located near some deep brush. Maybe Song was hidden there, or her possible kidnapper had slipped in there to make him or herself unseen.
"It's an indicator, a bread crumb," Baron said. "[That area] is a great place to hide."
The carving, however startling, led to yet another dead end.
"It was strange ... ," Kim said. "She just had this vision of [Song] being there."
The Song case has stuck in Baron's mind, like a nagging, sharp pain that won't go away.
"I look at it quite often," she said. "I don't often get emotionally involved with cases, but this one I am ... and I don't know why."
For her, Song's puzzling disappearance has evolved into much more than a case -- it's morphed into a personal quest. She's cried for several hours just thinking about it. Finding Song has become the ultimate mystery, one that Baron will travel the globe to solve.
"I'm not going to stop working on this until we're done -- until we find her," she said.
A need for closure
Who is to say if investigators' trip to Wilkes Barre will reveal any news of Song's whereabouts? Weakley, the informant, has had his credibility questioned following a number of tips he provided that led nowhere. Police also found information regarding Song's disappearance downloaded on his computer.
"He's not batting 1.000," Baron said of Weakley.
Discrepancies and skeptics aside, Sprinkle is still in pursuit of the answers to Penn State's deepest puzzle.
"I'm not completely sold on [Weakley's] story," Sprinkle said. "But if he's going to give up five bodies, why would he lie about a sixth?"
The ambitious Song has left her mark on this tiny college town -- that much is certain.
"I felt she was very together, she had dreams. She wanted to make it big," Kim said. "She inspired me in a lot of ways to look at life more brightly."
Bansoon Song has since returned home to South Korea, where she continues the long, hard wait to hear about her missing daughter.
The university has stood by as one of its students has become a poster child for being careful in what is regarded by the majority as one of the safest places around. Its support, however, has been unwavering.
"It's certainly frustrating ... to think that family and friends have had to sit with this emptiness," Bill Mahon, Penn State spokesman, said. "It's been very frustrating and heartbreaking."
For Sprinkle, the young detective in the hot spotlight, there is a growing desire to put a stamp on this case, to unravel the mystery of Cindy Song.
"I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of solving this," he said.
Kim, who now lives in San Francisco, about as far away from the case as you can get, has watched as her hopes of seeing Song alive begin to slowly fall. Hearing any information of what happened would be slightly comforting -- even if it's the worst.
"Now, I'm kind of more gearing toward bad news," Kim said. "There's always still hope. But it's just not a lot."
And then came the words that seem to always come up whenever Cindy Song is mentioned.
"It's just been a long time."
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