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Tennessee investigators plead for help in woman's abduction

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Search continues for missing student
  • NEW: A volunteer looking for the woman says of the community, "We're all just close"
  • Investigators have gotten 250 leads in their search for Holly Bobo since Wednesday
  • They are urging people to "take notice" of anyone who might have kidnapped her
  • One official has said Bobo "was in fear of her life" when she was led from her home

(CNN) -- Investigators and community members in Tennessee continued their hunt Sunday for a 20-year-old nursing student, offering a fresh appeal for tips on the man they believe forcibly took her from her home last week.

Holly Bobo was on her way to school when her brother saw her being led from their Darden, Tennessee, home into the woods by a man wearing camouflage, said John Mehr, special agent in charge for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Mehr's state agency urged people Sunday "to take notice of anyone whose whereabouts were unaccounted for Wednesday morning, when Holly went missing, and changes in behavior since the incident." Police have not yet named anyone who they believe was behind the alleged kidnapping.

"It's possible the suspect missed work or appointments last Wednesday, Thursday or Friday unexpectedly," the bureau of investigation said in a statement. "He may also have excessively cleaned a car or ATV, suddenly sold a vehicle, or reported it stolen. The suspect may be showing signs of anxiety or stress."

The community, which is near Parsons, is offering $25,000 for information that helps authorities locate Bobo and/or arrest her alleged abductor.

While authorities have backed away from their earlier assertion that Bobo was dragged away, they do not believe she went willingly either.

"We feel she was in fear of her life so she was compliant with his demands," Mehr has said.

As of Sunday, the investigative bureau said law enforcement had gotten more than 250 leads. Search teams were combing for evidence in parts of Decatur and Henderson counties, including in Natchez State Park. On Saturday, the state agency had said teams were looking in parts of Henry, Carroll and Benton counties.

Decatur County Mayor Michael Smith told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Friday that new evidence had been found in the search for Bobo, who was taking nursing classes at a Tennessee Technology Center campus in Parsons.

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

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

The case has galvanized many in the rural central Tennessee community, which is roughly halfway between Memphis and Nashville. Hundreds of volunteers -- some on horseback and foot, others on all-terrain vehicles -- have turned out in recent days to hunt for clues, while many more have attended memorial services or offered supportive thoughts online via several groups on Facebook.

"We're just all close," one volunteer, Bryan Smith, told CNN affiliate KSMV. "Everybody's close in this town and the county."

Her parents, meanwhile, have struggled to come to grips with their daughter's disappearance. Her mother, Karen Bobo, cried throughout her husband's brief statement to reporters Thursday and then spoke directly to Holly and whoever 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."