Purse, Phone of Missing TCNJ Student Found on George Washington Bridge in New York

aielloThe purse and phone of a missing College of New Jersey student Paige Aiello were found by a passer by on the George Washington Bridge, and the car she was driving was found in a New Brunswick parking deck, law enforcement officials confirmed.

Rescue boats began searching the Hudson River near the George Washington Bridge and both levels of the bridge Tuesday night, but so far have found nothing, and no witnesses have come forward to report seeing anyone attempt to jump from the bridge. The Port Authority Police Department was assisted in the search by Harbor Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, New York Police Department Patrol and Aviation Units.

Yesterday New Brunswick police found the Audi Aiello was driving in the Gateway parking garage on Somerset Street near the train station in New Brunswick.

Aiello, a senior from Hillsborough whose 22nd birthday is today, was last seen by her parents Tuesday. Her family contacted Hillsborough Police Tuesday night to report that she was missing, and an investigation was initiated. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has joined the Hillsborough Police Department in the search, Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano confirmed.

“Ms. Aiello was last seen by her father on Tuesday at approximately 1  p.m. while at their residence in Hillsborough,” Soriano said in a written statement about the case. “At approximately 3 p.m., Ms. Aiello’s mother noticed that her vehicle, a 2006 grey Audi A4, was taken without her permission and that her daughter was missing. Attempts by the parents to contact Ms. Aiello by cellphone proved negative.”

At about8:30 p.m., Hillsborough detectives were made aware that a Good Samaritan found Aiello’s purse, cellphone and car keys while she was walking on the south walkway of the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. The Good Samaritan contacted Aiello’s parents, and notified them of her findings. Aiello’s parents then contacted the Hillsborough Township detectives with the information that they had received. Hillsborough detectives contacted the New York Police Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and notified them of the missing person investigation.

At about 11:24 p.m. Tuesday, law enforcement agencies began a search for Aiello in the Hudson River. At about 11:40 p.m., the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Squad was notified of the missing person investigation. Wednesday night at about 10:19 p.m., Aiello’s 2006 A4 Audi was located by the New Brunswick Police Department in the Gateway parking garage. The vehicle was transported to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Forensic Laboratory for examination. Detectives have contacted New Jersey Transit Police to assist in the investigation due to the proximity of the deck to the train station.

In a radio interview this afternoon, her father, Christopher Aiello, said his high-achiever daughter was under a lot of stress lately and was down in recent weeks. Aiello had an off-campus apartment, but had been staying at home in recent weeks because her family didn’t want her to be alone.

Aiello is a communication studies major and captain of the women’s tennis team. She recently suffered a tennis injury. She was admitted to Rutgers University in Newark for law school, to begin this fall. She also works at a Pennington health club and Winning Touch Tennis in Princeton.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Hillsborough Township Police Department at (908) 369-4323, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 575-3300, Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS(8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or www.scpo.net and click on either Crime Stoppers or TIPS HOTLINE. All calls are confidential.