April 19, 2011 / 12:06 AM / 9 years ago

Tennessee investigator makes plea for help in Bobo case

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Tennessee’s top investigator on Monday made a public plea and Governor Bill Haslam offered a $50,000 reward as authorities pressed for leads in the apparent abduction of 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo five days ago.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was checking more than 250 leads in the disappearance of Bobo, who is a cousin of country artist Whitney Duncan, TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“The next analysis of a piece of evidence could be a key in solving this particular incident,” Gwyn said. “I can tell you that we have not eliminated anyone from this case.”

Monday’s search centered on Natchez Trace State Park north of the Bobo family home in Darden, Tennessee, said Kevin Cagle, director of the Decatur County Emergency Management Agency.

Some 300 volunteers searched the park on horseback, all-terrain vehicles and on foot Monday, down from the weekend when more than 1,000 people joined the search.

Investigators were going door-to-door to ask neighbors near the Bobo home if they saw anything the day she disappeared, Gwyn told reporters on Monday afternoon. Another 30 leads came in Monday, bringing the total to about 280, he said.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was using imaging technology to map the bottoms of bodies of water near the Bobo home, Gwyn added.

Haslam’s $50,000 reward for information leading to Bobo comes on top of $25,000 raised by the community.

Bobo was last seen being led by a camouflage-clad man into the woods near their home on Wednesday morning about the time she normally would leave for school.

Investigators have said Bobo was being led by her hand or arm and they believe she was coerced and feared for her life and complied with the abductor.

On Sunday, investigators asked area residents to try to recall people who may have been acting peculiarly the day Bobo disappeared or afterward, saying it was likely her abductor had knowledge about the the thick woods nearby.

The abductor may have missed work or appointments on Wednesday or for days afterward and also may have an “excessively cleaned” car or all-terrain vehicle, or suddenly sold a vehicle or reported it stolen, the bureau said.

Some clues have been found, including the young woman’s white lunch box that was found about eight miles from her home. Investigators are not commenting on other evidence found.

Investigators have also said Bobo’s brother saw her outside the house with a man Wednesday morning, but at the time he thought it was her boyfriend. When he went outside later, he saw blood and called police. The blood is being analyzed.

Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Greg McCune

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