A woman who authorities believe was kidnapped near her Blairsville home remained missing Friday as authorities widened their search and interviewed sex offenders in a four-county area.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Mike Ayers said law enforcement officers were talking with 150 registered sex offenders who reside in Union, White, Towns and Fannin counties as they investigate the Tuesday night disappearance of 38-year-old Kristi Cornwell.
Ayers said some of Cornwell’s personal effects were found near where she was last seen walking for exercise on Jones Creek Road in central Union County. He declined to say what they were.
Ayers also confirmed that Cornwell’s boyfriend heard "the sound of what he perceived to be a struggle" while talking with her on her cell phone around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
News reports late Friday said that Cornwell’s cell phone was found about 3« miles away in a yard on Nottely Dam Road
Authorities have released descriptions of two vehicles of interest in the case: a white sports utility vehicle and a four-door compact import car, possibly gold or tan, and possibly a Nissan or Toyota, though it could be another manufacturer.
Ayers said people interviewed in road checks said cars with those descriptions were seen in the area at the time of the suspected abduction.
More than 100 searchers from at least 15 law enforcement agencies have assisted in the search. At the request of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Hall County Sheriff’s office sent several deputies and a tracking dog to aid in the efforts, Col. Jeff Strickland said.
Ayers said the search was not scaled back in its third day.
The search continued to be focused in the area of Jones Creek Road, a heavily wooded, rural two-lane road off the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway, but was expanded beyond the initial parameters, Ayers said.
Ayers said as authorities have developed some leads as they continue to interview Cornwell’s friends, family and associates.
"There are some things that we are not releasing at this time," Ayers said. "We are not void of leads. We’re continuing to vet those out."
The case marks the second large-scale search for a missing person in Union County in the past two years.
In January 2008, hiker Meredith Emerson was abducted from the Byron Reese Memorial Trailhead at Blood Mountain. Emerson remained alive for four days after being kidnapped by 60-year-old Gary Michael Hilton. She was found bludgeoned to death in Dawson National Forest a week after her disappearance. Hilton pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a life sentence.