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Police give more details of tip letter
Family of missing woman asks writer to come forward
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A North Carolina law enforcement agency has released new information about an anonymous letter that could be the key to solving the case of a missing Blairsville woman.

Kristi Cornwell, 39, has been missing since she was abducted near her parents’ home on Aug. 11. Her family in recent weeks has asked that the writer of a letter sent to the Cherokee County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office come forward.

This week, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office revealed some of the contents of that letter in a news release.

Officials said the unsigned letter came from someone who said her grandson had stayed with her for two weeks in western North Carolina. The man was from Florida and was doing handyman work for the grandmother between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, according to the letter.

The man drove a Nissan Xterra with Florida license plates and resembled a police composite sketch of a person who struck a woman with his car in Ranger, N.C., on Aug. 2, according to the letter.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said there could be a connection between the Ranger incident and Cornwell’s abduction.

On Thursday, GBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Ayers would say little about the letter, except to confirm that investigators are now looking toward Florida.

“We think the person may be in Florida, if the letter is legitimate,” Ayers said. He said the GBI may be releasing more information on the case soon.

Investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not return a phone message Thursday.

Cornwell’s mother, Jo Ann Cornwell, released a statement that said she is “pleading with the writer of the anonymous letter ... to please come forward.

“I know how hard it would be to implicate your own grandson in such a horrible crime,” Cornwell wrote. “I beg you, as the grandmother of Kristi’s possible abductor, to rid yourself of the guilt you must be feeling, knowing you may have the information that could lead us to Kristi.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Jo Ann Cornwell acknowledged that the letter could be a hoax, but said Cherokee County Sheriff Keith Lovin told her he “felt it was legitimate.”

“But I have not seen the letter,” she said. “I don’t know what it says, other than what was released.”

Cornwell said she understood that the letter “had a lot of details.”

She said the person who wrote the letter may never come forward, “but the more people who hear about this, the greater chance we have of finding out who this was.”

A $50,000 reward is available for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to contact the GBI at 800-597-TIPS.

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