It was a normal day when Rebecca Henderson Paulk left her parents’ Alabama home on Labor Day.
But the 26-year-old has not been seen or heard from since, and authorities, along with hundreds of others in areas spanning two states, are in a desperate search to find her.
"I want her to be alive, but this not knowing is unbearable for our family," Janet Henderson, Rebecca’s mother, told Dateline NBC. "It's baffling and scary, I don't understand what could have happened to her."
According to police, Rebecca was last seen at a local business in Meridian, Mississippi on Tuesday, September 8th. The following evening someone spotted her Honda civic abandoned in a rural area, just 10 miles from her last known whereabouts.
“Her personal items were inside and the vehicle was not secured,” Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, told Dateline NBC. “Because of where her car was located and her relationship with her family, it is highly likely foul play is involved.”
The discovery of Rebecca’s car rattled those close to Rebecca, who have said she would rarely go a day without contacting her parents. "She calls, she texts. She's reliable and is a sweetheart. She's not perfect and maybe we didn't know somethings about her life but no one's perfect."
It appeared there may have been a break in the case last Thursday, when detectives executed a search warrant at the home of John Bentley Poisso Jr., 57. Poisso Jr. was arrested on unrelated misdemeanor charges, but he is considered a person of interest in Rebecca’s disappearance, as he was the last person known to have been with her before she vanished, Chief Deputy Calhoun said.
It is unclear what, if anything, investigators found on his property.
A simple search of Rebecca’s name online yields hundreds of postings on social media sites. The family has started the Facebook page ‘Missing Rebecca Paulk’ and thousands have now shared Rebecca’s image and information. A candle light vigil was held Thursday evening, with hundreds turning out to show their support.
There is a $5,000 reward offered by the family for information that brings Rebecca home. "We have been so fortunate to have a community like ours and all these strangers helping, but I hope it's enough to bring her home. We want her home alive," Janet told Dateline NBC. "My faith is keeping me strong through this and we're just going to pray and ask others to do the same for Rebecca."
Rebecca is described as 5’6” tall, weighing 145 lbs. with blonde hair and green eyes. If you have any information, please contact the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department at (601) 482-9806.