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A Tense Wait for Irene Luetje's Co-Workers

Farmingdale State waits for word on North Massapequa woman's mysterious death.

In the days following Irene Luetje's disappearance, her employers at Farmingdale State College grew increasingly concerned about her well being, with co-workers saying it was extremely unusual for her not to say where she was going.

Employees described a campus on edge as the worries continued when Luetje's body was found outside an Ocean Avenue home in Massapequa on Feb. 14. 

There were no signs of foul play and no ready answers for those who knew Luetje on a daily basis.

"This was not her," Luetje's colleague Sandra Hahl, said of learning that her friend missed work without calling in. "If she was not going to be in, she'd call everyone and her brother to let them know." 

Luetje, who worked at Farmingdale State since 2009, was last seen on campus on Dec. 21 right before the Christmas break.

Records show she was scheduled to return to work on Jan. 2, and was not there, but a spokeswoman for the school left open the possibility she might have remained out because her boss, Dr. Veronica Henry, had taken a few extra days off.

When Henry returned on Jan. 7 Luetje still hadn't returned to work, and Henry began to make checks.

"It was not like her not to show up for work" Henry said. "I did put a call into her and there was no answer."

The University President's office contacted campus police, according to school spokeswoman Kathryn Coley. The university police reached out to the family and when they said they hadn't heard from Luetje, they contacted the Nassau County Police.

Police said that Luetje hasn't been seen since she had a conversation with her landlord on Jan. 6. Luetje's sister filed a missing person report Jan. 12. Cops asked for the public's help in solving the mystery of how the 60-year-old woman ended up five miles away from her North Massapequa home.

“There’s a feeling of sadness," said Robin Dunn, another co-worker. "Everyone was saying, 'Where is she? What happened?'”

Dunn says there's still a pall at the college. "It hit the campus hard," she said. "She would never hurt a fly."

Other things aren't adding up for Luetje's colleagues. "She had a grand-niece who she loved dearly," Dr. Henry said. "She didn't show up to see her during the holidays."

Dunn said that Luetje was known to be an avid walker, but was concerned that she was under-dressed and found wearing shoes that resemble ballet slippers.

While it's difficult dealing with a friend's death, Dunn said she was hoping to hear one bit of good news when the autopsy report comes back in a few weeks.

"That she didn't suffer," she said. "That somebody didn't do this to her. Everyone is on edge here because we don't know what happened."

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