by CHRYSTAL STASICKY Staff Writer
The College of New Jersey student Paige Aiello’s decomposed body was found under the George Washington Bridge by the NYPD on Wednesday, May 8 while searching for a possible jumper in the Hudson River.
The 22-year-old was last seen at her Hillsborough home on April 9 after her father dropped her off from her afternoon classes. At 3 p.m., her mother returned home and found that the family car and her daughter were missing. They called the police a few hours later when she did not come back.
Later that evening, the family’s car was seen in a parking lot in New Brunswick near the New Jersey Transit train station. The police found footage of Aiello walking out of Penn Station toward the bridge. A passerby then found her purse, cellphone, and car keys on the upper walkway that night. However, they did not find Aiello.
Aiello’s family and friends spent several days in Penn Station passing out flyers and trying to find out whether people had seen her. The family had to stop the search temporarily because they could not handle it.
“I don’t blame the family for stopping. Their beloved daughter was missing and they had no idea what happened to her or where she was. The only thing they could do was hope for the best and with days passing by and no results, their emotions would get to their head. They simply would not be able to handle it. And obviously they couldn’t, considering the fact that they stopped searching temporarily. It just took an emotional toll on them,” said sophomore Sana Omar.
Family and friends were not the only ones searching for her. Several government units such as the New Brunswick Police Department, New Jersey Transit Police, the New York Police Department, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and even a Marine unit and the U.S. Coast Guard helped the Hillsborough Police Department in finding Aiello.
TCNJ’s Vice President for College Advancement John Donohue stated, “She was a really sharp, bright young lady.”
Aiello was a communication major and co-captain of the tennis team at TCNJ. She worked several jobs and has done unbelievably well in college. She was even accepted into nine law schools. However, she she was under a great deal of stress and lived at home for support from her family.
“She had hit almost like a wall where she felt she was not maybe either worthy of all this or she just couldn’t handle it,” Aiello’s father said.
Aiello would have graduated and received her degree on May 16. TCNJ’s college president, R. Barbara Gitenstein, will pay respects to Aiello’s family and friends.
“I think it’s a good thing that she is paying respects, and I’m sure Aiello’s family will appreciate it a lot. It must of been very hard on her family to have to go through that, but I am sure that having Gitenstein speak about their daughter will put the family at ease,” said senior Mickaela Fabbricatore.