April 17, 2011 -- Hundreds of police and volunteers combed the woods in three Tennessee counties today searching for any sign of Holly Bobo, the 20-year-old college student abducted outside her home.
Some 600 volunteers joined police Saturday, working until midnight to find any trace of the young woman, whose brother saw the abduction Wednesday, but only realized too late that the man leading her into the woods was not her boyfriend.
Family, friends and concerned residents of Holly Bobo's hometown of Parsons, Tenn., and neighboring communities came out again this morning to continue the search.
"We got lots of volunteers and we're continuing to do searches throughout the county in other areas and looking any type of leads that could help us in bringing Holly back," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said.
"We also are getting tremendous amount of leads from all over the country throughout the United States. And so, we're following up on those leads as they come in and prioritizing the ones that aren't the urgent leads," he said. "We're continuing to ask people to call in and give us information on this case because we want to bring Holly back."
A reward of $25,000 of information leading to Bobo's return and the arrest of her kidnapper was announced Saturday evening.
A service was held in honor of the missing student at Corinth Baptist Church in Parsons.
Investigators said 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."
She was confronted Wednesday by a man in hunting camouflage who forced her to go with him into the woods, Mehr said.
"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 said.
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,"
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 were wrong.
Police and volunteers have scoured wooded areas of three counties over four 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.
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," Dana Bobo said. "But I don't know what for sure."
Police said they are considering the same theory.
"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.
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 town of Parsons, a 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.
"She was a really good person who I never would have dreamed this would happen to," said friend Felicia Tegethoff. "She didn't need it to happen to her, she was doing something with her life, you know."
Bobo is 5-feet-3 and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.