Tempe PD resumes lake search for missing ASU student - WNEM TV 5


Tempe PD resumes lake search for missing ASU student

Posted: Updated:
Jack Culolias Jack Culolias
Culolias was last seen Friday at 11 p.m. Culolias was last seen Friday at 11 p.m.
He disappeared after leaving Tempe Marketplace's Cadillac Ranch He disappeared after leaving Tempe Marketplace's Cadillac Ranch

Tempe police said a tip they received has them resuming the lake search for an ASU freshman student who disappeared Friday night.

Tempe police said they got a phone call Thursday night from a concerned resident who claimed seeing an object, resembling a person's silhouette, in the water northeast of the area that investigators had searched for three days.

Tempe police, along with ASU police and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, are expanding the search area north of Tempe Marketplace.

Jack Culolias, 19, has not been seen by friends or family since he left Cadillac Ranch Tempe Marketplace about 11 p.m. Friday, ASU police spokesman Jim Hardina said.

His family tells us Culolias left his credit card and cell phone behind. [Click here for "Bring Jack Home" web page.]

About 200 people showed up to a vigil Wednesday night in the area where search crews have been looking for Culolias.

His mother, Grace Culolias, called ASU police Sunday about 5 p.m. to ask officers to conduct a welfare check, since she had not spoken to her son and was concerned.

On Monday, she called Tempe police and said she and her other sons were flying to Arizona from their home in California to help in the search. On Tuesday, the missing person investigation begun by ASU police transitioned to Tempe police. ASU detectives originally assigned are continuing to work in conjunction with Tempe police detectives. 

About 2 p.m. Tuesday, family members found a red shoe at an embankment along the Rio Salado River/Tempe Town Lake, which runs north of the Tempe Marketplace. The missing teen's mother said she recognized it immediately. Tempe police said DNA on the shoe is still being processed.

"I saw the shoe and I immediately picked it up. I was shocked," Grace Culolias said.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office brought in a helicopter and search dogs Tuesday afternoon to canvass an area near Tempe Town Lake. Nothing else was found and the scene was secured for the night.

On Wednesday, Tempe police investigators continued their search of the river basin with the help of ASU police. MCSO's lake patrol brought out specialty equipment to help in the water search, while other investigators conducted a ground search.

"They had two different types of boats, one was a swamp boat that could go into shallow water," said Jack Culolias' stepmother, Renae Culolias. "They actually walked the ravine and went into all the other areas looking for a body."

On Thursday morning, authorities had four K-9 teams from Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue out again assisting in the search. Tempe police said they did a ground search from about the McClintock bridge to almost Dobson Road. Tempe police said they searched the north side of the lake and didn't find any evidence. They called off the lake search Thursday afternoon and resumed Friday morning after receiving the tip.

"I want my son," Grace Culolias told CBS 5 News. "He's a good kid and I just want him home. I just want him home."

"We're doing all right, we're just really worried about him, just trying to stay optimistic," said Nick Culolias, Jack Culolias' older brother, Wednesday.

Jack Culolias is described as 6' tall and has brown eyes and brown hair. His friends said they have been conducting search parties every night and hanging posters to raise awareness. Hardina said the teen's mother was worried about possible hazing because Jack Culolias was pledging to a fraternity.

"He didn't want to go through it, they were going to put 30 kids in a garage for a week, no food, no water," Grace Culolias said. "Would you want to go through that?"

But one of Jack Culolias' friends said there's no hazing involved and added the ritual is a thing of the past.

"All the brothers, everything, is (sic) just branching out, doing what we can as a network to get the word out there," Alex Sabet said.

A statement released Wednesday night by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters said Jack Culolias had been attending a chapter social event at Cadillac Ranch. The statement went on to say, "Sigma Alpha Epsilon offers its prayers and support for Culolias' family, friends and chapter brothers and hopes and prays for his safe return."

The fraternity said it is providing support and counseling to chapter members.

Police said they have searched the missing teen's campus suite and have spoken with his suitemates.

"At this point, the detectives have talked to several of the fraternity members and they are still trying to contact more people that may know of Jack's whereabouts or who saw him last," said Tempe police spokesman Michael Poole.

Police said at this point, there is no reason to believe there is any foul play.

Chris Osborn, managing partner of Cadillac Ranch, issued the following statement on Tuesday:

"We are saddened by the disappearance of Jack Culolias and are working with local authorities on this matter. We hope he is found safe and our thoughts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

On Wednesday, Osborn released this statement:

"We are fully and promptly complying with all investigation requests from Tempe PD and have been since day one. Our business has been open in Tempe for five years, it employs 65 good people, and has never had an incident like this. We are members of the Tempe and ASU community, and we are deeply sympathetic to Jack's family and friends. We hope that they find Jack safe and sound. Finding Jack is what is most important right now."

Fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon released a statement, saying in part:

"Sigma Alpha Epsilon prays that Culolias is safe and that someone is able to come forward with information to assist in the community's search efforts. The national headquarters is providing support and counseling to chapter members during this difficult time."

A page has also been set up to collect donations for Jack Culolias' family while they're away from their home and close to the investigation. To donate, click here.

Anyone with information is requested to please call Tempe police at 480-350-8311 or submit a tip on their website by clicking here.

Stay with cbs5az.com for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WNEM; Saginaw, MI. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.