An army of searchers in the North Georgia mountains came up empty in a second day of looking for a Blairsville woman they believe was abducted and in imminent danger.
The disappearance of 38-year-old Kristi Cornwell prompted a massive search that bears eerie similarities to Union County’s last high-profile missing persons case. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Mike Ayers said Cornwell was last heard from around 9 p.m. Tuesday while walking for exercise on Jones Creek Road near her home. Ayers said authorities are working on the assumption that she was the victim of a vehicle abduction.
Ayers confirmed that Cornwell’s boyfriend, Douglas Davis, spoke with her by phone just before she was abducted, but declined to say what was said in the conversation.
"We do believe she is in danger," Ayers said. "We are actively seeking the assistance of the community."
Checkpoints were set up in the area to question motorists on whether they saw anything unusual Tuesday night, Ayers said. Investigators have interviewed Cornwell’s friends, family and associates to determine whether she was having any personal issues in her life or had recently encountered threats, "and there are none," Ayers said.
Ayers said Cornwell’s boyfriend "does not appear to have anything to do with her abduction."
Authorities are not commenting on the evidence they’ve gathered in the case.
"There’s specific evidence we’re holding close the vest," Ayers said.
More than 100 officials from a dozen area public safety agencies have been involved in a search that began Wednesday and continued into Thursday.
Searchers have used helicopters and dogs as they comb the area around Jones Creek Road, a rural two-lane highway in central Union County off the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway. The search area was expanded Thursday, Ayers said.
A command post was set up at nearby New Union Baptist Church.
"Some of these folks have been going for more than 24 hours," Ayers said Thursday morning. "We will continue the search as long as there’s something to search for."
As of late Thursday, there were no new developments, Union County District Attorney Stan Gunter said.
Ayers said Cornwell is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds, and was last seen wearing a white shirt and tan pants.
According to a profile on the social networking site Facebook, Cornwell is a student at Dalton State College in the Medical Laboratory Technology program. She graduated from Union County High School in 1989.
The scope of the search recalls the January 2008 missing persons case of Meredith Emerson, who was abducted from Union County’s Byron Reese Memorial Trailhead at Blood Mountain.
Emerson was found murdered several days later in rural Dawson County. Her killer, 60-year-old drifter Gary Michael Hilton, pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence.