PARSONS, Tenn. April 15, 2011 -- A Tennessee college student abducted outside her home as she was leaving for class complied with her camouflaged kidnapper who led her into a nearby woods because she was "in fear of her life," investigators said today.
Holly Bobo, 20, was confronted Wednesday by a man in hunting camouflage who forced her to go wiht him into the woods, said John Mehr, spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"We believe he actually had her arm, holding her. We feel she was in fear of her life, so was complying," 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 Pasrons, Tenn. home.
Bobo's 25-year-old brother 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.
Investigators initially said the woman was dragged from near the house's carport into the woods, leading many to ask why the brother had not intervened.
Her brother, said Mehr, "had reasons to believe [the man] was not an attacker."
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 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 containg Bobo's cell phone and some camouflage clothing was wrong.
The search by police and as many as 400 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.
The Search for Abducted Student Holly Bobo
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.
Bobo is a cousin of Whitney Duncan, a country music singer and a finalist on the television talent show Nashville Star. She recently tweeted, "Lord have mercy. I feel like I'm walking in a nightmare."
The army of volunteers searched for Bobo on foot, on horseback and using ATVS.
"Holly I love you so much. Please try to get home to us and if anybody knows anything about her please, please help us find her," said Karen Bobo, Holly's mother.
Pink ribbons and pictures of Holly Bobo are posted all over the close knit community of 2,500 people.
"If this was my daughter, I'd want everybody doing the exact same thing for her," one volunteer said.
The community is offering a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to Holly Bobo's safe return.
"If there's anybody that can help, just come on and help us please," said Natalie Bobo, Holly Bobo's cousin.
Bobo is 5-feet-3 and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.