Twenty-nine-year-old Jiwon Lee, a standout student in her final year at Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine, disappeared on Tuesday. She was last seen leaving her Upper West Side apartment; according to her family, Lee’s phone registered a signal from Washington Heights before going dark.
Lee, who hails from Novi, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2005. She was set to graduate from Columbia in May, and this year served as president of the nationwide American Student Dental Association.
At least one report has surfaced saying a suicide note was found at Lee’s apartment, but, on Sunday, a NYPD spokesman could not confirm the existence of a such a note.
Before matriculating at Columbia, Lee was also a fairly well-known New York comedian. In a blog post this weekend, Brooklyn Vegan’s Klaus Kinski wrote, “There was a time when I saw her name appear on so many upcoming comedy calendars it was ridiculous.”
On Sunday, Lee’s brother Matt, a medical student at Columbia, started a fundraising campaign to a hire a private investigator to help find his sister. Before the end of the day, supporters had donated more than $21,000.
On the GoFundMe page, Matt Lee wrote:
Jiwon Lee is a wonderful student, friend, mentor, sister, and daughter. She was recently the President of the American Student Dental Student Association and is currently at 4th year at Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Many of you have had the pleasure of spending time with her and getting to know her. I hope her wit and playful sense of humor has in some way brightened your day on multiple occasions. That’s why it’s all the more shocking that our beloved Jiwon has been missing since Tuesday 4/1. Her phone was last tracked to Washington heights, but her current whereabouts are unknown. The NYPD has been hugely helpful, but understandably have many responsibilites to attend to. We would like to pursue hiring a private detective at this time in order to expedite and prioritize the search process. Any funds not used for the private detective will be used as a reward for information leading to her finding. We thank you for any contribution you may be able to make. If you are not able to give, your thoughts and prayers will also be appreciated… The Lee Family thanks you for your support during this difficult period.
Lee is five feet two inches tall and 120 pounds, with black hair and dark brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 7, 2014