- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Fliers went up, police fanned out and students at the University of Vermont held out hope yesterday as the search for a missing student from Virginia continued for a second day.

“We’re not wanting to jump to conclusions,” said Allison Bush, a senior.

Michele Gardner-Quinn, a 21-year-old senior from Arlington, was reported missing Saturday after failing to show up for dinner with her parents.

She was last seen heading home from a night on the town, and college officials and fellow students worried she may have been a victim of foul play.

“She’s out of place with no logical explanation for being out of place,” said police Detective Kim Edwards. “At this point, we do not believe she left on her own free will.”

Police called the disappearance “highly suspicious” and said there was concern Miss Gardner-Quinn may have fallen prey to a man who tried to lure a woman into his car at about the same time she was last seen, about three-quarters of a mile away.

That woman told police that the man — in his 20s, driving a “Subaru-type” hatchback vehicle and wearing a baseball cap and gray hooded sweatshirt — asked her to get into the car and she refused, Police Chief Thomas Tremblay said.

He said that happened about 20 minutes after Miss Gardner-Quinn was last seen. He said it was not clear whether the incident was related to Miss Gardner-Quinn’s disappearance and that investigators are struggling for leads.

“It’s difficult to classify something as a good lead at this point,” Chief Tremblay said.

Miss Gardner-Quinn, a senior majoring in Latin American studies and environmental science, went out Friday with a group of friends to celebrate a classmate’s 21st birthday at several downtown bars. She left the group at about 2:15 a.m. to walk back to campus, accompanied by a person her friends described as “a random guy.”

She hasn’t been seen since.

The timing of the disappearance — during parents’ weekend, with her parents at the university to visit her — fueled fears that something bad happened to her.

Her parents reported her missing Saturday night after Miss Garden-Quinn failed to show up for a planned dinner, Detective Edwards said. They weren’t available to comment yesterday; they asked police not to release their names.

“We have many detectives working on the case around the clock,” Detective Edwards said. “We’ve been here all night and today. We’re following a bunch of leads, following up to include or exclude people or vehicles.”

Police said the man who left with Miss Gardner-Quinn is not a suspect in her disappearance.

Fliers with her likeness and name, along with police contact information, were posted on utility poles and in campus buildings yesterday. Police widened their search beyond the city limits, where officers had canvassed neighborhoods looking for clues or information.

University of Vermont officials sent a campuswide e-mail alert describing Miss Gardner-Quinn and asking for help to find her, spokesman Enrique Corredera said.

Friends said they were worried about Miss Gardner-Quinn, who has participated in exchange programs to Brazil, Costa Rica and South Africa during her time at the university.

“She’s not the type of person who would just disappear,” her friend Tammy Lang told the Burlington Free Press.

Anyone with information was asked to call Burlington police at 802/658-2700.

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