Salt River area in Tempe searched for ASU student

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Searchers spent Tuesday afternoon near the Salt River looking for missing Arizona State University student Jack Culolias after his mother found what she believes may be his shoe.

Grace Culolias discovered the red Vans shoe near an embankment not far from the water's edge, while searching Tempe Marketplace with family and friends, on their own.

"Boys went one way, I went another, lo and behold I found a red Vans tennis shoe," Grace Culolias said. "Jack wears red Vans tennis shoes. I washed them for him at Thanksgiving."

She said she recognized the shoe right away based on the style, size and the way her son ties his shoelaces.

Culolias drove in from Orange County, Calif., Monday night to help bring attention to the case. ASU police spent the weekend investigating, but Tempe police have now taken over as the lead agency.
"I just want Jack back; I just want him home safe," Culolias said. "I don't think that's the case anymore."

Shortly after the shoe was discovered, Tempe police called Maricopa County Sheriff's Search and Rescue for assistance. Teams with dogs spent hours canvassing the area near Salt River. They ended their search Tuesday when the sun went down, but resumed early Wednesday morning.

Jack Culolias, a freshman, was last seen Friday night at a fraternity event at Cadillac Ranch at Tempe Marketplace.

Friends believe Culolias may have been escorted out of Cadillac Ranch, sometime between 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Friday. They said his cellphone was later found at the bar, but his friends didn’t see him leave.

"We were the ones who notified police; we were the ones who notified family," said Alex Sabet, a senior member of the fraternity.

Friends and frat brothers have spent the last couple of days passing out fliers on campus and to nearby businesses.

"All of us as a group just want to bring Jack home," Sabet said.
A spokeswoman with the restaurant told 3TV the bouncer escorted Jack Culolias to one of the party buses rented by the frat. 

However, police said students reported that Culolias was seen heading in the direction of cabs. Detectives are still looking for witnesses who saw which direction he may have headed.

“I’m going to be here until we find him,” Grace Culolias said. “We’re not leaving until I see my son.”

ASU police detectives, who have interviewed his friends and fraternity members, are now assisting Tempe police in the investigation. ASU Assistant Police Chief Jim Hardina said their focus is finding Jack, but he said university officials are also investigating allegations of potential hazing.

ASU officials released the following statement on Wednesday:

"Arizona State University is concerned and saddened by the disappearance of Jack Culolias, an ASU freshman in University College. The safety and security of our students and community is always our number one priority. We continue to hope he is found safe and our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

"It was reported that Jack was last seen on Friday night, Nov. 30, between 11-11:30 p.m. at a fraternity event at Cadillac Ranch in Tempe. After leaving Cadillac Ranch, he was seen walking toward the taxicabs parked nearby.

"ASU police immediately began investigating Jack's disappearance as soon as they were notified Sunday night, Dec. 2. The investigation and search was turned over to Tempe police after a meeting on Tuesday morning as Jack was last seen in Tempe Police's jurisdiction. The ASU Police Department continues to work with the Tempe Police Department in the search and investigation and follow up on all leads.

"Any allegations of misconduct by the fraternity will be investigated by ASU's office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The priority right now is searching for and finding our missing student.

"Missing person posters have been posted around campus asking anyone with information about Jack to contact the Tempe Police Department at (480) 350-8311."

Sigma Alpha Epsilon posted a statement on its website, saying in part:

"Sigma Alpha Epsilon offers its prayers and support for Culolias' family, friends and chapter brothers and hopes and prays for his safe return. In addition, we ask for the public's assistance in helping to locate him.

"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."

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

"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 5 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."