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Missing woman was 'in fear of her life,' authorities say

By the CNN Wire Staff
Holly Bobo's brother saw her being led into the woods by a man wearing camouflage, officials say.
Holly Bobo's brother saw her being led into the woods by a man wearing camouflage, officials say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Victim not dragged away from home, but didn't leave on her own free will, authorities say
  • "We have located some new articles that we believe are of interest," mayor says
  • Authorities suspend search for Holly Bobo due to weather
  • The 20-year-old was last seen Wednesday morning at her home
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(CNN) -- A 20-year-old woman who disappeared from her home two days ago was not dragged away, an official with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Friday, but authorities don't believe the woman left on her own free will either.

"We feel she was in fear of her life so she was compliant with his demands," said John Mehr, special agent in charge for the TBI.

Holly Bobo was on her way to school when her brother saw her being led into the woods by a man wearing camouflage, Mehr said.

Since Bobo went missing Wednesday, the media has been reporting that she was seen being dragged across the carport of her Darden, Tennessee, home shortly before she disappeared.

Mehr said that was not the case, but the bureau and the Decatur County Sheriff's Department have said they are looking into the incident as a possible home invasion and kidnapping.

Earlier Friday, the mayor of Decatur County told CNN's Brooke Baldwin that new evidence had been found in the search for Bobo, a nursing student.

"We have located some new articles that we believe are of interest," Mayor Michael Smith said.

The items, according to Smith, have been flagged by county officials but still must be examined by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's forensic team.

Bobo is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs about 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and light blue jeans.

Smith wouldn't elaborate on what type of new evidence was found, but CNN has learned that a white lunch box was found near a creek eight miles away.

On Friday, hundreds of volunteers -- some on horseback and foot, others on all-terrain vehicles -- spent their second day combing through a four-square-mile area of Decatur County in hopes of finding new clues into Bobo's whereabouts.

Police have not named any suspects in Bobo's alleged kidnapping. A $25,000 reward has been offered for information that helps authorities find her and arrest any abductor.

"We'd just like to send a plea out to whomever might be listening and watching to help this family," said Decatur County Sheriff Roy Wyatt, who choked up while speaking shortly after Bobo's parents addressed reporters. "You can only imagine what they go through. They need your help."

Minutes earlier, her father, Dana Bobo, said, "My daughter was taken from us yesterday morning ... from my house, going to school."

The young woman was taking classes at a Tennessee Technology Center campus in Parsons, at an off-campus center that is affiliated with the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Dana Bobo echoed Wyatt's plea, calling for "any help [to] bring home our daughter" and thanking law enforcement personnel and citizens who had joined the search for the young woman. He said the incident occurred when neither he nor his wife was at home.

Online, the search has gained momentum. More than 12,000 people had joined a Facebook group titled "Prayer for the return of Holly Bobo" by 5 p.m. Thursday. That amounts to several times more people than all of those living in the rural central Tennessee community of Darden, about 100 miles southwest of Nashville and 120 miles northeast of Memphis.

The 911 office also has been flooded by callers offering help.

"People are wanting to help, bring food, offering four-wheelers; they're willing to help," Decatur County dispatcher Sheila Carver said.

She said that offers of assistance have been coming not just from the local community, but from out of state as well.

Bobo's parents, meanwhile, struggled to come to grips with their daughter's disappearance. Her mother, Karen Bobo, cried throughout her husband's brief statement to reporters and then spoke directly to Holly and whomever might know what has become of her.

"Holly, I love you so much. Please try to get home to us." Karen Bobo said.

"She's ... so precious, you just don't even know. I just want her back."

Bobo has been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's kidnappings and missing persons website.

CNN's Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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