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One year later, still no trace of missing woman
Cornwell disappeared last Aug. 11; clues so far havent led to an answer
Jo Ann Cornwell holds a picture of her daughter, Kristi Cornwell, while standing along Jones Creek Road near Blairsville. Kristi Cornwell disappeared along the same road a year ago Wednesday. - photo by Stephen Gurr

How to help

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Kristi Cornwell is asked to call 1-800-597-8477. A $50,000 reward is available.


BLAIRSVILLE - Nearly a year has passed since Jo Ann Cornwell's daughter Kristi walked out the door of their Union County home for what was supposed to be a 30-minute walk.

"It's like time has stood still, and I'm still stuck in that night, just waiting for her to come home," Jo Ann Cornwell said.

Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Kristi Cornwell's disappearance. The 39-year-old single mother was walking along Jones Creek Road for exercise when she was apparently abducted. Her boyfriend was speaking with her on her cell phone when the abduction occurred, authorities said.

And though a possible suspect in the case was identified earlier this year, he may have taken secrets with him to the grave when he committed suicide.

All the while, Jo Ann Cornwell still hopes she'll see her daughter again.

"I'll never give up hope," she said. "Unless I know different. I know she may not be (alive), but I know that miracles happen every day, too, and people are found who were held captive for years. So I have to hold out hope."

Kristi Cornwell walked the route from her parents' home west of Blairsville past Union Baptist Church and along a two-lane country road a few nights a week. She went out shortly before 9 p.m. Aug. 11, 2009, and was seen walking past the church, out toward the remote road surrounded by pasture and a few farmhouses.

Her boyfriend told police he heard sounds of a struggle over the phone. Her personal effects, including a cell phone, were later found along the side of the road.

Investigators pieced together a possible scenario from a similar incident in nearby Ranger, N.C., and issued a lookout for a Nissan Xterra pickup truck.

James Scott Carringer, a 42-year-old real estate appraiser from Young Harris, owned such a truck and was a suspect in an attempted abduction of a child in Montgomery, Ala. In April, Carringer killed himself as police attempted to arrest him on charges of raping a woman in Ellijay.

"He is still a lead that we're trying to develop information on," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Kim Williams, who heads up the Cleveland regional office that is investigating Cornwell's disappearance. "However, since he's not available to us, things are going a little slower than they normally would. We're still collecting information about him. Any additional information we could get from the public about (Carringer) and his travels would be helpful."

A letter received by Cherokee County, N.C., authorities that was purportedly from the grandmother of someone involved in Cornwell's abduction is still considered valid, but investigators haven't determined who wrote it, Williams said.

"We would still ask that the author of that letter come forward, because that's a good lead," she said.

Jo Ann Cornwell and her family have done everything they can think of to find out what happened: going on national television, sending out mass mailings and offering a $50,000 reward for information. A television documentary crew recently spent a week in Union County working on a program about the case that will air this fall.

The family members welcome the media attention, no matter how difficult it can be to dredge up their emotions, if only to keep Kristi Cornwell's disappearance in the public consciousness.

"I know it does begin to fade," Jo Ann Cornwell said. "A year is a long time."

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Kristi Cornwell is asked to call 1-800-597-8477. A $50,000 reward remains available.