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Missing Stanford Student - this is a Palo Alto issue

Original post made by Palo Alto Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2007

There is a Stanford Student missing since last Saturday. I have seen nothing about town and very little in the media. This is an issue that affects all of us. Please let us do what we can to help get the word out. I am sure that the majority of Palo Altans are unaware of the situation. Please let us all do our part in the search and keep our eyes and ears open as we go about town and see if there is some way we can help.

Comments (9)

Posted by Lou
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2007 at 4:14 pm

The news of this missing student repeatedly has been on all the local network TV stations with photo and license #. Also on radio and in the press. Once it was realized she was missing, Stanford police department has really kept up a heightened awareness and information campaign. I heard that it was also on CNN.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2007 at 4:21 pm

It appears her vehicle has been found in Santa Rosa with a body in the trunk! Sad news. It affects us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, and the whole Stanford/Palo Alto community.

Posted by Police Say It's Her
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Missing Stanford student's body found in her car
Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif. - The body of a missing Stanford University graduate student was found here Thursday in the trunk of her car and investigators say she may have committed suicide.

Police found the silver Toyota Corolla belonging to Mengyao "May" Zhou, 23, an electrical engineering student missing since Saturday, around 7 a.m. in a parking lot at Santa Rosa Junior College, Sgt. Lisa Banayat said. Officials at the community college reported first seeing the car there four days earlier.

"There are some items in the vehicle that would be consistent with a suicide," she said, but investigators are not drawing any conclusions. She did not describe the items.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday, the Sonoma County coroner's office said.

Zhou was last seen Saturday morning, when she told her roommate at Stanford's graduate student housing complex that she was leaving to run errands.

Her father had offered a $25,000 reward for tips leading to her whereabouts.

Zhou is Asian, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighs about 120 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and a medium complexion. She was wearing blue jeans when her roommate last saw her.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2007 at 6:01 pm

I know very little on this subject, but can't understand how a body in a trunk is suicide. I expect that those who do know will explain in due course, but in the meantime I find the whole thing scary.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 25, 2007 at 6:12 pm

LE could think her death was a probable suicide perhaps by finding: a suicide note along with drugs or some sort of weapon in the car.

Also, I got the feeling that her family thought she may have harmed herself.

Also, it was reported that the college police reported seeing the car parked in their lot 4 days ago. The only way I could understand that is if it had been ticketed for overtime. Most colleges charge parking fees these days.

My condolences to her family.

Posted by Barbie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I struggle living here and being so close to Stanford to understand why this young woman would drive to Santa Rosa to kill herself? What information are we missing here? Was there a boyfriend? I feel so badly for this family and thonk of this everyday and how we all have to pay attention to the kids we are in contact with. How do we offer help and not step over the boundaries we should not regarding another family. I wish someone had known her struggles and been able to offer help. Somehow we failed her. Did not pay attention. This is such a struggle as I assume she would not alow anyone to know her real struggles and fears. I did not know her but I miss her.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2007 at 2:37 pm

This should be pulled.

Posted by John
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2007 at 12:27 pm

LOTS of ways a suicide victim might end up in the trunk of her own car by her own choice. Basically, it comes down to getting into the trunk, closing the lid, then expiring in the trunk. Conceivably, she might have OD'd before getting into the trunk or killed herself after getting into the trunk.

Not sure why it is so difficult for people to see how she could have committed suicide and ended up in the trunk. Little kids die in trunks accidently too often this way.

Posted by Stanford Alumni \'01
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 27, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Sounds like it could just as easily be murder. Yes, there have been students that have killed themselves. The people I've heard of hung themselves, or gassed themselves in a garage (not at Stanford, but a student none the less), or shot themselves. Some leave notes, others not. Usually, the student is known to be suffering through great stress or mental illness.

Being stuffed into a trunk and left to suffocate isn't normal for suicide. It's something that happens to victims of:
a) random violence -A criminal holds her up and tells her to get in the trunk so he can escape.
b) premeditated violence- She is attacked and shoved into the trunk by someone she knows, or someone hired by someone she knows, either --for love (boyfriend, stalker, or other female trying to 'kill' the competition in a bizarre love triangle) [It happened at NASA, why not at Stanford- an equally competitive place.]
-for competition (Didn't Nancy Kerrigan get clubbed in public by Tanya Harding's hired hand for the Olympics?)
- for only god knows what reason, but no one will know until they (the police or the family's own private investigators)pursue the investigation further.

Whatever the investigation finds, the end result is still really sad. The woman is gone. The only thing sadder would be if we leave it as a suicide, when it might be homicide, and it happens again to someone else.

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