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Officials end water search for missing Northwestern student Harsha Maddula, but friends, family continue to search on land

September 27, 2012 8:06:52 PM PDT
Search crews went back out in Evanston Thursday afternoon looking for a missing Northwestern University student.

STORY: FBI joins search for Maddula

STORY: NU student, 18, missing

Eighteen-year-old sophomore Harsha Maddula hasn't been seen since last Saturday.

As students and members of Chicago's south Asian community joined the family in search of their son, another day brought Maddula's relatives a sense that maybe just maybe he's still alive

"It's a loss for the whole community so we should pull together and look for him," said Mohammed Khan, searcher from Naperville.

"He is coming back and he's going to be with us, maybe today, tomorrow, whenever it is," said a relative. "We have faith, he's coming back."

That faith appears to be the result of at least 21 law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, banding together to tell the family they haven't given up solving this case

"They are doing everything they can," said Surekha Maddula, Harsha's aunt.

Earlier in the day, the land and water search at Wilmette's Gilson harbor was suspended after nothing indicating the student had visited the area was found. His Verizon handheld was tracked to the nearby cellphone tower shortly after he was last seen leaving an off-campus party about 12:30 Saturday morning.

"That's what the university police are re-interviewing the students about now, did he leave with the group he came with or not, or if he didn't who did he leave with," said Alan Cubbage, Northwestern University.

Some 30 members of the extended Maddula family from Long Island, New York, have come to look for Harsha. Psychics have even contacted them -- unsolicited -- and offered hope.

"We think he's alive. Somebody must have took him. He will come home to his mom and dad," said Sam Maddali, relatives.

In the meantime, Harsha's mom calls her son's cell phone to hear his voice on his voicemail.

"She calls Harsha's cell phone 30 times a morning, she keeps on calling, she doesn't have any more tears, I don't have any more tears," said an emotional Prasad Maddula, Harsha's father.

A vigil will be held for Harsha Thursday night at the Rock on Northwestern University's campus.

The 5'8" and approximately 150-pound Maddula is of Indian descent. He has black hair and was last seen wearing black-framed glasses, a gray sweater with black and white stitching, dark gray pants and brown shoes.

The Evanston Police Department and the FBI are also involved in the search. Anyone with information is asked to call Northwestern University Police at (847) 491-3254.


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