By Sheila Burke/The Associated Press
PARSONS, Tenn. — Whether they are grabbing coffee, sitting down for a meal or filling their pickup trucks with gas, people in this western Tennessee town are talking about the abduction of 20-year-old Holly Bobo.
Those who know the nursing student with blond hair and a big smile say they don’t know what’s more shocking: that anyone in this community about 100 miles northeast of Memphis would be abducted or that it would happen to someone like her.
“That’s what’s so surprising: that it’s her,” said Robert McCoy, who goes to nursing school with her at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“She’s just the sweetest little thing and so smart.”
She was last seen by her brother, Clint, early Wednesday morning as she walked into the woods with an unknown man. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said authorities do not believe she went willingly.
Searchers went back to looking for Bobo on Saturday, a day after authorities revealed her brother saw blood outside the house. Authorities haven’t confirmed whether it belonged to Bobo, who disappeared as she was preparing to go to classes.
McCoy said Bobo had already begun her clinical training program at local hospitals. He called her a natural nurse, soothing and gentle with the sick.
“She was so good with the patients,” McCoy said.
Besides surprise, the suspected abduction also inspired fear. Residents nearby say they have begun to lock their doors at night. Bobo’s father, Dana, has said the captor was probably watching the family and knew the rhythm of their comings and goings from the one-story home where Bobo lived with parents and 25-year-old brother, Clint.
Bobo was on her way to campus to take a test when she was taken.
A convoy of teenagers on all-terrain vehicles, seating two and three kids at a time, rolled down a country road where volunteers gather to search for her. Her community of Darden, where neighbors are close in spirit even though their houses can be a mile or two apart, has rallied to help. On Friday, almost a thousand volunteers joined officers to push through thickets of brush and up and down wooded hills looking for a sign of Bobo. They have taken food to the family, posted fliers with Bobo’s photo and held prayer vigils.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says her brother at first wasn’t alarmed when he saw her outside the family home around 8 a.m. Wednesday, walking toward the woods with a man dressed in full hunting camouflage attire holding her arm. He thought at first it was her boyfriend, the TBI said. Authorities have said neither her boyfriend nor brother are suspects.
Friends say Bobo, like most young people here, likes to go four-wheeling on the weekends.
Bobo, they say, was very outdoorsy and fit right into this community of sports enthusiasts and hunters where men often wear hunting camouflage. Bobo’s Facebook page shows her with a young man in a camo cap.
Like many here, Bobo attended church regularly.
She also sang in church, sometimes by herself in front of the congregation and other times performing in a duo. She performed in several talent shows when she was in school.
“She has an angelic voice,” said David Ivey, who goes to church with the family.
Bobo’s Facebook page says her interests include Miley Cyrus and country music singer Whitney Duncan, who is her cousin.
Friends said she loves animals, especially horses. She spent much of her free time going to dinner and the movies — she likes Morning Glory and The Hangover 2 on Facebook — with her boyfriend