NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The abduction of a nursing school student from her home in west Tennessee drew more than a thousand volunteers to search for clues where she was last seen being led into the woods by a man in hunting camouflage.
Six months later, the family of Holly Bobo continues their own searches and investigators are still developing leads and working on the case daily. This week marked not only a half-year since Bobo was last seen on April 13 but also her 21st birthday on Wednesday.
Investigators said early in the search that whoever took Bobo must have been familiar with the rugged woodlands surrounding the family's home near Parsons, about 100 miles northeast of Memphis. Holly's brother, Clint Bobo, saw her being led into the woods by a man in hunting gear that morning but initially thought it was her boyfriend. He called authorities when he saw a small amount of blood outside the home.
In the weeks after she went missing, volunteers pushed through thickets and the governor offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. More than 850 tips have come in to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on their 1-800-TBI-FIND hotline.
While they have been checking out every lead, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said their investigation has stayed focused on the area around her home.
"They are still concentrating on the geographical area of Parsons and Darden and the people there," Helm said.
No additional physical ground searches were planned, Helm said.
"The best clues that we have is everything that was found and the eyewitness account from the crime," Helm said. "That's the best information we have to work off of."
Still the frustration level for everyone is high as no arrests have been made and no suspects announced.
Pastor Kevin Bromley at First Baptist Church in Parsons, who speaks on behalf of Bobo's family, said during this time the community is praying they can continue being strong.
Bobo's mother Karen left her job as a teacher to devote her time to spreading the word about her daughter's abduction and searching. Her father, Dana, and older brother, Clint, have gone back to work part-time, but they spend their days off traveling throughout the region and even into other states to hand out fliers, Bromley said.
Meanwhile, Bromley said the community has found other ways to help keep the spotlight on Bobo. They hold events regularly in her name, hang ribbons, wear T-shirts with her picture, and even sell a trucking decal with her photo.
"We are always trying to think of new ways to get her face out in the public," Bromley said.
That encouragement even six months later has helped the family continue their efforts to find her, Bromley said.
"It is a tremendous comfort that this family has all the support that they need," he said.
Bromley said the case is by no means cold and TBI and FBI agents are still speaking with the family and working in the area. If anyone has information that might help solve the mystery, the family strongly encourages them to contact the TBI through their hotline, Bromley said.
Mostly Bobo's family wants people to keep praying for her and her safety, the pastor said.
"Don't give up," he said. "We still have hope that she will return safely."