PARSONS — Police searched thick brush and rugged terrain in western Tennessee on Thursday for a bubbly, blonde-haired 20-year-old nursing student, a day after her older brother told authorities he saw a man in camouflage dragging her body toward the woods.
The children’s father believes someone who knew the family’s daily routine was to blame for Holly Bobo’s disappearance. She was last seen by her brother about 8 a.m. Wednesday, as she prepared to leave for her college classes.
Clint Bobo was home when he saw Holly being dragged across the carport, authorities said, but they haven’t revealed what he told a 911 operator or provided much other detail. All they have said is that he is helping investigators. Neighbors were asked to report any unusual people or cars in the area at the time.
Dana Bobo, speaking at a news conference, said he had no idea why someone would want to take his daughter.
“I just have a feeling it might have been somebody close, who knew our routine — when she (his wife Karen) left, when I left, when our daughter left,” he said.
Authorities received two 911 calls about the abduction, one from Clint, 25, and the other from Bobo’s mother, who wasn’t. Since then, several law enforcement agencies and hundreds of volunteers have searched the woods and fields surrounding the home.
Both Dana and Karen Bobo begged for help in finding their daughter, who was known for her sweet voice.
“Holly, I love you so much,” Karen Bobo, an elementary school teacher, said through sobs. “… She’s just so precious, you don’t even know.”
Even Decatur County Sheriff Roy Wyatt choked back tears as he reiterated the plea for help.
“This family — we can only imagine what they’re going through. They need your help,” he said.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said the community is offering a $25,000 reward for information about Bobo’s disappearance.
The search covers a rural area with trees and brush so thick at least one search dog had to be carried by its handler. Authorities also were using a helicopter.
Holly Bobo disappeared from the family’s one-story, ranch-style home, in the community of Darden, where the houses are mostly on parcels of land large enough for owners to keep livestock.
Holly Bobo is a cousin of country singer Whitney Duncan, who tweeted Thursday morning that “I feel like I’m walking in a nightmare.”
“Thanks for all the prayers and please keep spreading the Amber alert,” she wrote.
Jason Rushing, director of the University of Tennessee at Martin Parsons campus, said Bobo was enrolled in a one-year program to become a licensed practical nurse.
“She was a good student, capable, conscientious with her school work,” he said. “You could tell by the way she interacted with others that she was popular with other students.”
Bobo enrolled in the program last August and had class Wednesday and Thursday.
“We are going on as scheduled, but you can tell this situation is on everyone’s hearts and minds,” Rushing said.
The kidnapping stunned the community of about 2,500 some 100 miles northeast of Memphis.
“You think bigger towns, bigger populations, is where something like this would happen, not a small town where everybody’s neighbors and family,” said Bryan Lindemann, who has known Bobo since she was 13 years old.
Courtney Jeffreys, 20, went to school with Bobo since preschool and said she loves animals and always had a lot of different kinds of pets growing up.
“She is just a really sweet girl,” Jeffreys said.
Since news of the case spread, businesses in Darden have posted flyers with her photo, taken food to the family and held a prayer vigil, said Decatur County Mayor Michael Smith. He said the close-knit community has little crime. Since the disappearance, residents have been locking their doors and women are fearful of going out alone at night.
Bobo is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and light blue jeans.
“The whole community is praying for her safety and well-being,” said Bobo’s pastor, Don Franks.
Shelia Burke/The Associated Press