Police, FBI search for clues in 1996 disappearance of Palo Alto woman

Daily Post Staff Writer

Belmont Police and FBI agents yesterday descended upon a home on Farm Hill Boulevard in Redwood City with scanning equipment, shovels, buckets and sifters to search for clues in the 1996 disappearance of a Palo Alto woman, Ylva Hagner, 42.

Police yesterday wouldn’t say what prompted the search in the 27-year-old case.

Hagner, a native of Sweden, lived in Palo Alto and worked at a software company in Belmont, where she was last seen on Oct. 14, 1996.

Police and FBI agents yesterday were meticulously taking apart the backyard of the house at 3789 Farm Hill Blvd., which county records show is owned by Thomas Pressburger, who the San Francisco Chronicle in 1997 identified as Hagner’s boyfriend when she vanished.

Pressburger today is listed as a computer scientist at NASA Ames. A voicemail left for him was not returned.

County records show that in March 1996, Pressburger bought the home on Farm Hill Boulevard, less than a mile away from Canada College. It was not immediately known yesterday whether Pressburger still lives at the home, however, he is registered to vote there.

Police yesterday removed a brick walkway on the left side of the home, near the garage, and dug up the dirt packed under the bricks. Police did not say if they had found anything.

The FBI and representatives from the San Mateo County sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office were at the scene to help with the investigation, which began early yesterday morning.

Authorities also closed Stulsaft Park yesterday.

Yesterday, resident Johanna Rasmussen, president of the Farm Hill Neighborhood Association said it was surprising to see the FBI trucks parked along the street as she took her children to school. Rasmussen said she looked up the home and noted that the residents don’t participate in the neighborhood association’s activities, or are on its email list.

A shocking thought

“To think there was someone back there for 20 years, it’s shocking. I hope if (police) are on to something the family can finally bring their person home,” Rasmussen said.

At the time of her disappearance, Hagner was attending Stanford to get a master’s degree when she disappeared. She also worked as a marketing executive for iXOS Software, which was located at 1070 Sixth Ave. in Belmont. The now-defunct software company shared its building with Belmont Police.

Hagner was last seen at 9:30 p.m. by her boss. When her coworkers arrived in the morning, they noticed that Hagner’s computer was uncharacteristically still turned on, according to a Daily News report from the time.

A few days after Hagner’s disappearance, her car, with the keys still in the ignition, was found on Spring Street, just off of El Camino Real, in San Carlos near a motel. When Hagner’s car was found, the FBI conducted forensic testing.

In March 1997, police searched an area by Page Mill Road in Palo Alto near where Pressburger used to live. The search went on for four days, and after the search police declined to say if they found anything of use in the investigation.

Hagner’s family in 1998 put together a webpage that cast suspicions on a college professor who had sent threatening messages to her. The professor, who according to Daily News accounts from the time, was not named on the website but had dated Hagner in the past. Hagner’s family told the Daily News that the professor was upset Hagner was seeing someone else.

1 Comment

  1. For 27 years somebody has gotten away with murder. Time to bring in the suspect and ask some tough questions.

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