Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Centre Daily Times on October 10, 2009.
FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — There are 21 binders of information on Cindy Song in Ferguson Township police Detective Brian Sprinkle’s office.
That’s one for every year she’d lived before she disappeared eight years ago from her off-campus apartment dressed in bunny ears on Halloween night.
As in many unsolved missing persons cases, reported sightings and creative leads initially flooded in, but led nowhere. Television crime shows spotlighted the mystery of the South Korean Penn State student who was last seen leaving a party early Nov. 1, 2001, but none could solve the cold case.
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Theories that an abusive boyfriend was responsible, or that she was sold into slavery and spotted in Philadelphia’s Chinatown were all ruled out.
Only one theory remains.
“The only active lead that is currently still open is the Selenski case, “ Sprinkle said.
Convicted bank robber Hugo Selenski was brought to the attention of investigators about two years after Song disappeared, when police in the Scranton area found several bodies buried in Selenski’s backyard.
DNA proved none of them were Song. But a co-defendant turned informant who led police to the five bodies told investigators that Selenski and another man, Michael Kerkowski, picked up a girl in State College with bunny ears on Halloween that year.
“The informant basically said that Selenski and cohort Kerkowski ... traveled down here; Kerkowski liked young (Asian) girls. They kidnapped her, took her up there and killed her, “ Sprinkle said.
The informant, Paul Weakley, qualified all this information by saying he had no firsthand knowledge of Song’s death, just the story that Selenski had told him.
But, Sprinkle said, in the five other deaths that police in Scranton investigated, information from Weakley turned out to be accurate.
“Everything else turned out to be true, “ Sprinkle said. He’s hoping for the same in this case.
Sprinkle says everyone close to Song was ruled out as possible suspects.
“We pretty much started with the inner circle and family and worked our way out to friends and acquaintances, so all those people were cleared back at the very start of the investigation, “ he said.
Until two homicide cases pending against Selenski in Scranton are resolved, Sprinkle said he can’t talk in detail about what evidence police may have linking Selenski to Song.
Still, of all the leads in those 21 binders, Sprinkle thinks this one may provide some answers for Song’s family and friends.
Eight years later, Song’s case has become less well known. Friends and family who were once active in the investigation have either moved on or moved away.
There are no more flyers being posted. There are no more pictures. The Korean Student Association president didn’t return e-mails asking if any kind of remembrance of Song is planned for today.
In town, Song’s name is often used in the same sentence as Betsy Aardsma and Brenda Condon — other tragic stories whose endings are yet unknown.