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Remains identified as those of missing California woman

By the CNN Wire Staff
September 20, 2011 -- Updated 1333 GMT (2133 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michelle Le disappeared on May 27
  • Her family thanks the "many" volunteers who helped in the search
  • Tests are ongoing to try to determine the manner and cause of Le's death
  • Police arrest Giselle Esteban on September 7 in connection with the case

(CNN) -- Human remains found over the weekend in northern California have been identified as those of Michelle Le, a nursing student who was last seen in a hospital parking garage more than three months ago, police said.

"Although the identity of the remains has now been confirmed, forensic pathology examinations are ongoing to determine, to the extent possible, the exact manner and cause of Michelle's death," a statement from the Hayward Police Department said.

Le's family members expressed their gratitude Monday night to those who helped in the search.

"Thank you for your support, prayers and thoughts. Our family has greatly appreciated, and would be at a loss, without the help of so many people and volunteers," the family said in a statement Monday night.

When the remains were found on Saturday, they were so decomposed that investigators were not able to initially determine a gender. The remains were identified on Monday night.

The body was found during a search for the 26-year-old student, who disappeared May 27 after telling classmates at a Hayward hospital that she was going to get something from her car, Lt. Roger Keener said this month. She never returned and the abandoned vehicle was later found about a half-mile away.

Police have classified the case as a homicide. Giselle Esteban, 27, was arrested September 7 in connection with the case.

Evidence -- including blood stains, security camera footage, cell phone records and DNA found on a shoe -- led to Esteban's arrest "for the murder of Michelle Le," Keener said.

CNN's Greg Morrison contributed to this report.

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