FBI Searches NASA Scientist’s Home in Missing Student Case

A NASA scientist’s home has been searched by the FBI in relation to a missing-person case from the 1990s, with nearly a dozen bags of evidence removed from the house.

The house in Redwood City, California, belongs to Thomas Pressburger, who is a computer scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

“Basically, we took a look back into the case and opened up the cold-case investigation and that’s why we’re out here today,” Lt. Peter Lotti, a spokesperson for the Belmont Police Department, said in a video posted by local broadcaster KTVU. “And really our ultimate goal is to bring closure to the case.”

The search was carried out on Wednesday at the house and in a nearby park, reopening the cold case of the disappearance of Ylva Hagner, who went missing in October 1996, then aged 42.

Stock image of an investigation in a backyard. A NASA scientist’s home in California has been searched by the FBI in relation to a 27-year-old cold case.

Hagner, a Swedish national, worked at a software company and attended the Stanford Continuing Studies program. She was last seen at work in Belmont—5 miles north of Redwood City—on October 14, 1996.

Her car was found in San Carlos four days later with the keys in the ignition, but she could not be located, and her disappearance was considered suspicious. San Carlos is situated between Belmont and Redwood City.

“We have nothing to show that she was kidnapped, we can’t find any signs of a struggle or anything like that, so all we can say at this point is it’s a disappearance under extremely suspicious circumstances,” said Belmont Police Department Commander Larry Riche in 1996.

Now, however, Belmont police, the FBI, and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office have all been involved in the search of Pressburger’s house.

According to a report in the Chronicle Peninsula Bureau at the time, Pressburger was Hagner’s boyfriend during that period, and had been questioned by police during the initial investigation.

ABC7 reported that the police were specifically interested in a brick patio in the backyard of the home, initially removing bricks and scanning the ground. Police then brought in excavation equipment and dug up that section of the yard.

“Hopefully they find something and figure it out,” Annie Norgaard, a neighbor, told ABC7. “The Nextdoor app was buzzing all day. It is usually quiet here but of course we saw all the police and helicopters here today.”

Belmont police told ABC7 that the search of the property was now complete, and that they were planning to release new information in the coming days.

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