“I just know that I’m going to track down whoever hurt her,” Michelle Tullis told Dateline.
Michelle’s youngest sister, 26-year-old Sara Ebersole, disappeared from Reddick, Florida, in the early morning hours of March 3, 2023.
Michelle said that Sara is the youngest of the seven children in their family. Despite their significant age difference, Michelle said that she and Sara are extremely close. “I’m much older than her -- I’m 40,” she said. “I was in 10th grade and Sara was 1.”
According to Michelle, Sara was primarily raised by their maternal uncle and aunt in Sarasota — about two hours away from Reddick. “My mother and father weren’t involved,” she said.
Michelle describes her sister as a “free spirit” who “thinks everything is sunshine and rainbows.”
“She’s pretty much an explorer,” Michelle said. “Doesn’t matter if someone says, ‘Let’s go four-wheeling, let’s go swimming, let’s go ride a surfboard,’ any new experience.”
Michelle said that Sara had started staying with her off and on at her home in Dunnellon by the time she was a teenager. Dunnellon is about two hours from Sarasota.
Sara turned 18 in 2014 and officially moved out and settled in with her new husband. “She married my neighbor down the street,” Michelle told Dateline. “She moved in with him right down the road.”
The marriage didn’t last long, Michelle said. “Within that year, they were kind of already separated,” she said. “They were just too young.”
Sara was out on her own again.
At the time of her disappearance in March, Sara was living with a roommate in Reddick, according to Michelle.
Michelle told Dateline she last spoke with her sister on March 2 — the day before Sara disappeared.
According to Michelle, Sara worked as an exotic dancer and needed a ride home that night. “She had messaged me around 7-something, asking if I was available to give her a ride from work,” Michelle recalled. “I told her I wasn’t available, I was sorry -- and she said that was OK.”
At 7:50 p.m., Michelle said her sister messaged her again. “She messaged me to tell my kids that she said ‘hi’ and that she loves them,” Michelle said. “At 10:11, she messaged me that she ‘was getting into a random truck with some cowboys’ and that she ‘hoped they took her on a ride.’”
That was the last time Michelle heard from her sister.
The next day, Michelle told Dateline that she knew something was wrong. “I [called] her and it went straight to voicemail,” Michelle said. “Then the roommate messaged asking if I had heard from Sara and I said, ‘I have not.’”
Michelle said that it is extremely unlike Sara to not respond to messages — especially from her roommate. “So that sent up a red flag with her because Sara always responds,” she said.
Michelle told Dateline that the roommate attempted to file a missing persons report that day, but said that police told her that she needed to wait a week to see if Sara would return.
She did not return.
When Dateline spoke to Michelle on Monday, she said that Sara has a daughter who lives primarily with her father, Sara’s ex-boyfriend. And while Sara hadn’t seen her daughter “in about two weeks, maybe three weeks” when she disappeared, “she is turning 5 in just a few days — the 19th.,” Michelle said.
Today is the 19th, Sara’s daughter’s birthday. She will not be spending it with her mother.
On March 31, 2023, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office posted a release on Sara’s disappearance.
According to the Facebook post, Sara Ebersole was “seen on March 2, 2023, at around 10:00 p.m., in the area of the Circle K, located at 17980 N Highway 441, Reddick, Florida.” It adds that “Sara willingly left the Circle K in [a] black pickup truck seen above with two unknown males” and that “due to the length of time since she was last seen and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, law enforcement is seeking information about her whereabouts.”
At the time, authorities were “looking to identify the owner of the vehicle, who may know where Sara went after leaving the gas station.”
Michelle told Dateline that she has been investigating her sister’s disappearance on her own and was able to locate the vehicle and identify the two men with whom her sister was last seen.
According to Michelle, one of the men’s roommates told her that they were all hanging out with Sara that night at their residence in Reddick, but that Sara left in a blue vehicle at about 3 or 5 a.m.
Dateline attempted to contact one of the men and the roommate for their recollection of events, but did not receive a response from either man.
Public Information Officer Zach Moore of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline in an email that through their investigation, authorities have determined the identity of the two males in the black pickup truck Sara was seen getting into at the Circle K gas station on the evening of March 2. He said the men have been interviewed by law enforcement, but that no further information will be released at this time.
Moore went on to say that investigators now believe Sara was actually last seen during the early morning hours of March 3, getting “in a blue in color sedan, possibly Hyundai.” Citing the ongoing investigation, he would not say if authorities have located the blue sedan or its owner.
He emphasized what authorities said in their original post on March 31, that “there has been no evidence uncovered of foul play, however, the length of time that Sara has not been heard from elevates the concern for her well-being.”
Michelle told Dateline that while she doesn’t know what happened to her sister, she fears the worst. “I just feel like Sara’s probably not alive wherever she is,” Michelle said. “She’s never gone even a week without speaking to somebody and getting on social media.”
Sara is about 5’2” tall, 116 lbs. with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a white tank top and a black skirt and has a tattoo on her lower right hip of Kokopelli, a fertility deity.
Anyone with information about Sara’s disappearance is asked to call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (352) 368-3508.