Search Halted for Missing Student Jenni-Lyn Watson, 20

PHOTO Authorities in upstate New York are searching for a missing college student, Jenni-Lyn Watson, who disappeared after returning home for Thanksgiving break.
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Police halted the ground search Thanksgiving Day for a young New York woman who went missing almost a week ago, after coming from college for the holiday break.

Search and rescue teams took the day off Thursday, but investigators at the Onondaga County Sheriffs Office said they would continue to process tips and track down leads in the search for Jenni-Lyn Watson, 20, of the upstate town of Clay.

Watson went missing last Friday, after she returned home from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving with her family.

Although the investigation will hit the one-week mark tomorrow, police continue to classify the case as a missing-person investigation.

"Being a week out certainly raises concerns for us," Sgt. Sgt. John D'Eredita, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, told ABCNews.com. "We don't have any indication that Jenni-Lyn is not alive. It would take new evidence to turn this into a homicide investigation."

The search is expected to resume again Friday.

Over the course of the past two days, D'Eredita said, search teams have covered more than 600 acres, focusing on a swath of land where Watson was believed to have been last, according to cell phone records.

Police are asking local residents to call with any tips, regarding anything that might seem out of the ordinary, or information pertaining to a dark colored pickup truck last seen near Watson's home.

Some 600 students attended a vigil Wednesday night at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., for the pretty and popular ballet dancer.

Neighbors said it was not like the young woman to be out of touch with her family for so long.

"She's a ballerina, a wonderful student, keeps in touch with her family, loves her family. It's very out of character for her not to contact anybody," Stacey Kinahan told ABC affiliate WSYR.

Since her disappearance, Watson's friends and family continue to hand out more than 1,000 missing person fliers daily.

A Facebook group has been created to help find Watson. It now has more than 17,000 members.

Watson was last seen at home Friday morning with her parents and 17-year-old sister. When they returned home Friday afternoon, Watson was gone, along with her cell phone. Watson's purse, wallet and house keys were still at home.

Sheriff's Dept. Says to Stay Clear of Search Area

Authorities are urging people to call if they have information but not to look for Watson on their own, saying it would interfere with the investigation.

Jenni-Lyn's mother, Jackie Watson, delivered the same message in a written statement: "Thank you for all of the offers of help and assistance. It is greatly appreciated. At this time, we ask that you respect the advice of the Sheriff's Department and do not go near the designated search area. Professionals are covering that part of the search. However, what you can do is check any property you own, to include buildings, basements, sheds or places that you do not normally spend time in."

Police would not confirm if they had a suspect in the case.

Friends say they would not give up searching for Watson.

"I'm hoping that someone will see Jenni-Lyn's photo, recognize seeing her in the past day or two or three because it's been four, and report it immediately to the Sheriff's Department and it will be a good lead to bring her back home," Kinahan told WSYR.

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