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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Harsha Maddula Search: FBI Joins Effort To Find Missing Northwestern University Student

The FBI, Coast Guard and police outside Chicago yesterday waged a desperate land-and-water search for a brilliant Northwestern University student from Long Island who mysteriously disappeared Saturday after leaving an off-campus house party.

“I want him to come home,” said Dhanalakshmi Maddula, the worried mother of Harsha Maddula. “Wherever he is, or with whom, I want to know.”

Srinu Maddula, a cousin of the 18-year-old sophomore from New Hyde Park, said, “There is not a single clue. It’s like he just vanished.

“The family is not in good shapeWe just don’t know where to turn,” Srinu told The Post from the university campus in Evanston, Ill., where Harsha’s parents, twin younger brothers and other relatives were looking for him as divers searched Lake Michigan where his cellphone was last active.   Harsha’s pharmacist dad, Prasad, told a gathering of students Tuesday night, “My hopes are fading.”

Harsha — who has diabetes that can leave him disoriented if he doesn’t take his medication — went out Friday night with friends to two off-campus parties, officials said.

At around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, several palsseveral left the second party and headed on foot to a third about a quarter-mile away.

When they arrived there, they realized that Harsha — who showed no signs of being drunk — was gone, his family said.

Shortly afterward, he called a friend to say he was on his way. And soon after that, in a cellphone conversation with a resident adviser at his dorm, he said he was, in fact, at the dormroom — which turned out later not to be true.

And that was the last time anyone heard from him.

His mom last spoke to him Friday. “He called around breakfast time and said, ‘Hi, Mommy, I’m making breakfast.’ He was making tofu and eggs,” she said

His phone last pinged a cellular tower at the US Coast Guard facility on Wilmette Harbor on Lake Michigan, about two miles fromnorth his dorm, at about 1 a.m. Saturday.

A Northwestern spokesman, Al Cubbage, said that up to 20 agencies — including police, fire, FBI and Coast Guard — were searching for Maddula in the harbor, a major sanitary canal and on land yesterday.

“It’s a tremendous response . . . but obviously, a very troubling situation,” Cubbage said.

Maddula’s aunt Surekha Maddula said, “He wouldn’t just disappear like this without telling any of us . . . The concern is that this is something to do with the diabetes.”

The Maddula family has posted a $25,000 reward seeking information about Harsha’s whereabouts.

Anyone with information on where Maddula might be is asked to call Northwestern University Police, at (847) 491-3254.

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