As the search continues for Holly Bobo, a Tennessee college student abducted outside her home as she was leaving for class, investigators are saying that contrary to initial reports, Bobo was not dragged by a camouflaged kidnapper into a nearby woods but was instead led there because she was "in fear of her life."
Holly Bobo, 20, was confronted Wednesday by a man in hunting camouflage who forced her to go with him into the woods, said John Mehr, spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"What we believe, and I'll tell you he actually had an arm holding her and so we feel that she knew that she was in fear of her life so she was complying with his commands," he told a news conference.
Mehr said investigators "did not see drag marks." He added she was "not forcefully dragged and she's like any other victim, maybe complying with her attacker, but she walked into the woods" outside her Parsons, Tenn. home.
Bobo's 25-year-old brother Clint watched from inside the home, but did not believe she was being abducted until later. He saw the stranger from behind and believed it was his sister's boyfriend.
Her brother, said Mehr, "had reasons to believe [the man] was not an attacker," and did not call 911 until he saw blood outside.
The officer said that neither Bobo's brother nor her boyfriend were suspects. "We are confident of that," he said.
But police have no leads to the identity of Bobo's abductor.
"There is not a person of interest at this time," he said.
Investigators said they had found new pieces of evidence, including what Mehr called Bobo's "lunch purse," but would not specify where it was found.
"They have found some evidence that is new and specific to the case," said Decatur County Mayor Michael Smith. The mayor called the newly discovered clues "very encouraging."
While refusing to discuss any other evidence, Mehr said reports that a car had been found containing Bobo's cell phone and some camouflage clothing was wrong.
The search by police and as many as volunteers had scoured wooded areas of three counties over three days, at times during thunderstorms and heavy winds.
Authorities said they believed they were on a trail that was still warm.
"Folks, this is getting good now. Things are happening fast," a state investigator told a crowd of volunteers at the makeshift staging ground in Parsons.
Holly's cousin, country music singer Whitney Duncan, tried to provide searchers with some hope on twitter.
"I can't thank y'all enough for all the efforts to find holly. Keep it up until she is home with us," she said.
Tennessee officials asked for more volunteers to help in search efforts for Holly Bobo, and more than 1100 people lined up, so many that dozens were turned away.
Bobo's father said Thursday that he believed the man may have been someone who knew the young nursing student and knew the family's routines.
"It might have been somebody close, somebody that kind of knew our routine and when I left and when she left [his wife] and when my daughter left to go to school, is what I got in my mind," said Dana Bobo. "But I don't know what for sure."
"It's very possible that he could have known her, could have known her daily routine. We're following up on everything we possibly can," said Decatur County Sheriff Roy Wyatt.
"As long as we keep our faith that she is alive," said Wyatt, the search will continue.