Holly Bobo
AP
Nursing student Holly Bobo, 20, was last seen Wednesday being dragged from her house by a man wearing camouflage.
msnbc.com news services
updated 4/16/2011 4:15:20 PM ET 2011-04-16T20:15:20

Whether they are grabbing coffee, sitting down for a meal or filling their 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.

Investigators said Holly Bobo's white lunch box was recovered from a creek about eight miles from her home. An earlier report that her cell phone and camouflage clothing had been found in a car in the area was incorrect, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr.

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.

Convoys join search
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.

Dana Bobo, Karen Bobo
Mark Humphrey  /  AP
** CORRECTS FATHER'S FIRST NAME TO DANA INSTEAD OF DAN ** Dana Bobo holds his wife, Karen, as they speak about the abduction of their daughter, Holly Bobo, on Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Parsons, Tenn. Searchers are looking for the 20-year-old nursing student, who was last seen Wednesday being dragged from her house by a man wearing camouflage in what authorities describe as a home invasion and abduction. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Officers 'hopeful' in search for missing student

  1. Closed captioning of: Officers 'hopeful' in search for missing student

    >>> authorities in tennessee continue their search for 20-year-old holly bobo, a college student abducted from outside her home. good morning, tom.

    >> reporter: good morning to you. this is the church holly attended since she was a little girl and services will be dedicated to her and her family. it's been five days and still no sign of her. sunday may be considered a sign of rest but there's no time to stop. back into the brush for a fifth day search parties will sweep for any trace of holly bobo.

    >> the county has pulled together. we just are hoping, believing for something good.

    >> reporter: tim is part of the army of volunteers looking for holly and wants her family to know this.

    >> we've got your back. we're going to find her. that's what we do. we just want them to know we are out here. we're for them. we're going to be out here until we fall.

    >> reporter: authorities say a man dressed in camouflage kidnapped holly outside her home as she was leaving for nursing school . several of holly 's belongings have been recovered including her lunch box . one volunteer says it it was found near this creek.

    >> we've also getting a tremendous amount of leads from all over the country, throughout the united states .

    >> reporter: there is no person of interest at this time. holly 's brother, who called 911 after witnessing part of the abduction, has been ruled out at a suspect. so has holly 's boyfriend.

    >> we're continuing to ask people to call in, give us information on this case because we want to bring holly back.

    >> reporter: with each day the search for holly is expanding. john, a marine reserve from cincinnati, came to help a family he doesn't even know.

    >> this girl is out there somewhere and she doesn't have her family. she is all alone. so we really want to try to bring her back to her family.

    >> reporter: and the service here starts in a little over an hour. once they're done praying, jenna, they'll put their boots back on and head into the woods .

    >> it tranh, what's the mindset about how this investigation is goi going?

    >> reporter: you ask anyone and they say they're hopeful. we did ask the question to the investigators whether this is still a rescue operation or a recovery operation and they said bluntly this is a rescue operation still.

    >> all right. thank you so much.

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