FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — Three years after Penn State student Hyun Jong “Cindy” Song disappeared, police are still holding out hope that the case can be solved.
The Korean woman disappeared Nov. 1, 2001, after spending the night with friends at a Halloween costume party at Players Nite Club. Song, who was 21 at the time, was last seen about 3:30 a.m. when a friend dropped her off at her West Clinton Avenue apartment. Police believe Song went into her apartment because her roommate said she had left behind two pieces of her Halloween costume.
“It’s still an active case, “ said Fer guson Town ship De tective Brian Sprinkle, the lead investigator in the case. “When we get a new lead, we work on that angle.”
The newest lead in the case is information provided more than a year ago by an informant who said bank robber Hugo Selenski may have kidnapped Song and buried her body somewhere in Luzerne County. Five bodies were found in Selenski’s back yard last year, but none was Song’s. The only body as yet unidentified is male.
The information on Selenski is about the only lead in the baffling case, which gets colder by the minute. And even that may prove to be a false alarm, investigators said.
“I’m not saying Selenski is a suspect, “ said state police Capt. Joseph Holmberg, who is leading the state police investigation. “There are no real suspects in this yet.”
Selenski, 31, who is awaiting trial for allegedly killing two people and hiding their bodies on his property, also allegedly killed two others whose bodies also were recovered from his Wilkes-Barre-area home, according to a federal indictment of his girlfriend that was issued Oct. 21.
State police got involved in the Song investigation in May 2002 at the behest of then-Gov. Mark Schweiker. Holmberg said that at the height of their involvement, “we had five or six guys working this.”
Right now, they have two troopers who do “routine updates, “ he said.
At one point, Holmberg and other troopers involved in the investigation provided updates on the investigation to Song’s family -- most of whom are in Korea -- and gathered information from them on Song’s habits and routines.
It’s been at least eight months since Holmberg spoke to Song’s family, he said.
Many of Song’s friends who had given information to police have apparently left the area in the years since her death. The Centre Daily Times was unsuccessful in contacting such people as Song’s roommate or the wo man who was with Song at Players the night she disappeared.
Even with the leads drying up, Song’s disappearance continues to nab national interest. The Penn Stater has been the subject of several TV shows since the investigation began, including a segment on “Unsolved Mysteries” in Au gust 2002. In April, ABC’s “Primetime Thursday” featured a segment on the ongoing investigation. Included were clips of Sprinkle and nationally known psychic Car la Baron, who has spoken to investigators about the case, walking near a stream in Luzerne County, where Baron said she saw “clues” about Song’s disappearance.
In previous interviews, Baron has said she has talked with Song’s spirit to give police information that may help the investigation.
According to Holmberg, there are no hard and fast numbers on how often people go missing in Pennsylvania in such a fashion. It’s rare, but “it happens more than never, “ Holmberg said.
In fact, Song’s case isn’t the only local disappearance in the past 15 years. State troopers are still hoping for leads in the 1991 disappearance of Brenda Condon from a Spring Township bar.
Condon, who moved to State College from Williamsport about 1989, had only worked at Carl’s Bad Tavern along state Route 550 for a few days before she disappeared Feb. 27, 1991. Her cowboy boots were found in the men’s bathroom, according to police, and there was no sign of a struggle.
The CDT was unable to reach the lead investigator in that case or Condon’s family for comment. But Sgt. Steven Byron, who supervises investigations by the Rockview detachment of the state police, said Condon’s case is still considered open.
“In my 21 years here with the state police, those are the only two that have ever happened, “ Byron said.