Investigators in a small Arkansas town are baffled after a police emergency dispatcher and mother of three vanished days before Christmas and her torched car was found in a remote part of a nearby national forest.
Dawna Natzke of Hot Springs, Ark., was last seen eight days ago when she returned home after attending a friend's Christmas party. The 46-year-old's live-in boyfriend reportedly told police that she was watching television alone when he went to bed around 11 p.m. That was the last time anyone saw her.
Two days later on December 23 Natzke's son reported his mother missing. On Christmas Eve day, police were notified that her car, a 1997 Ford Escort, was discovered completely charred in a remote part of Oauchita National Forest. There were no signs of Natzke.
"The sheer fact that the victim's vehicle was found a distance from her residence, burned, at least suggests that somebody wants to cover up potential forensic evidence that might be inside that would ultimately identify perhaps someone who has harmed her," Brad Garrett, FBI expert and ABC News contributor said.
Natzky has worked at the Hot Springs Village police department as an emergency dispatcher for the past six years.
"She's family, and we're doing everything we can do to find her," Lt. Ricky Middleton of the Hot Springs Village police told ABC News.
Police are now coming under fire for not beginning a search of the area where Natzky's car was found sooner. It was not until the day after Christmas that the search of that area began. Police say it takes time to get dog teams in place.
"One of the keys is that the very minute you hear that someone is missing, whether they be an adult or a child, is you pull out all the stops to find them, because if they've been harmed, they may still be alive," Garrett said.
Although there has been an intensive search for Natzky this week, with dogs and police on horseback, there is no sign of her.
"She's a fantastic mother her children are better behaved than most teenagers you meet and that's really from my heart," Hella Cass, one of Natzky's neighbors, told ABC News Arkansas affiliate KATV. "We hope for a good outcome for the whole situation."
Cass says that the community is supporting the woman's family by bringing them food, while neighbors organized a search.
"We're praying for the family, that they will be at peace whatever happened," Cass said.