NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The decomposed body of a woman found in the Hudson River near the George Washington Bridge is that of a missing New Jersey college student, police said.
The NYPD harbor police discovered the body Wednesday on rocks near 158th Street while searching for a possible jumper in the Hudson River.
Paige Aiello was last seen at her family’s home in Hillsborough on April 9. The 22-year-old College of New Jersey senior apparently took her mother’s car without permission.
The car was found the next day in New Brunswick parked near a train station. Authorities said Aiello took a train into Penn Station. Surveillance footage shows she eventually walked out onto Seventh Avenue.
A passer-by called Aiello’s parents after finding Aiello’s purse, cellphone and car keys on the south walkway of the George Washington Bridge. No one reported seeing anyone jump from the bridge on the evening of April 9.
Aiello’s father said his daughter was a high achiever, captain of the school’s women’s tennis team and had been accepted into nine law schools for next year.
A message was posted Thursday on the “Find Paige Aiello” Facebook page thanking the community for its support.
“It is with a heavy heart that we report to you that the body recovered yesterday is that of Paige. We want to thank each and every one of you for never gaving [sic] up hope and continuing to help try and find Paige,” the message read. “At this time, we ask for your continued prayers and support for Paige’s family, friends and community during this most difficult time.”
Things are quiet on the TCNJ campus Thursday with just a week to go before graduation.
“Its been a heartbreaking and difficult time for the college and for all of the TCNJ family here,” college spokeswoman Stacy Schuster told WCBS 880′s Levon Putney.
Schuster said the women’s tennis team decided after all to head up to Amherst College “where they’ve decided to play in the tournament as a team in Paige’s memory, they believe it’s what she would have wanted.”
Tennis coach Scott Dicheck put out a statement saying their condolences and deepest sympathies are with the Aiello family.
Schuster added Paige already earned enough credits, so Aiello’s family will get her diploma.
“She’s graduating with honors, cum laude,” Schuster told Putney.
The Aiello family released a statement Thursday afternoon, calling the 22-year-old “our hero.”
“While it has been confirmed today that our cherished Paige was located along the coastline of the Hudson River, and as each member of our family carries unfathomable grief and pain, we are comforted by the kindness that has been demonstrated through all of your thoughts and prayers. Paige exemplified all that is good in people. She is honest, caring, selfless, and an incredibly hard worker. We believe – as do many who knew and love Paige – that few in this world could hold a candle to her. She is our hero,” the statement read.
A police spokesman said the body was identified Thursday through dental records.
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