Crews searched on foot and by helicopter Friday in North Carolina’s mountains, looking for a 39-year-old Charlotte woman who hasn’t been seen since leaving her parents’ home in Tennessee on Monday.
Holly Fischer told her parents, Ted and Leslie, that she was headed home to Charlotte.
She never made it, however, and authorities say they are focusing their search on Ashe and Wilkes counties, about 100 miles north of Charlotte, because her cellphone was used in that area as late as Thursday afternoon.
“This is a complex investigation being conducted by several law enforcement agencies,” Hillary Coward, a spokeswoman for the Knox County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.
Authorities say Fischer used her bank card Monday afternoon at a convenience store on Interstate 40 in Newport, Tenn., east of Knoxville and along the route she always traveled between her parents’ home and Charlotte.
Her roommate at a South End apartment called Fischer’s parents Wednesday when she had not returned, and the parents then contacted Knox County authorities.
The Ashe County Sheriff’s Office says her cellphone was last used about 5 p.m. Thursday somewhere in the rugged, mountainous area near the Ashe-Wilkes county line. Searchers looked Thursday along N.C. 16 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the search expanded on Friday.
There also have been no reported sightings of the car she was driving.
Coward said Fischer’s father told authorities his daughter was upset about her upcoming divorce.
“Her parents seem to think she might have decided to go to Ashe County to collect herself,” said Liz Stafford, who said she has been a friend of Fischer’s for more than 20 years, dating back to their days as students at Charlotte Latin School.
Coward said Fischer’s father told Knox County authorities that he spoke with his daughter’s estranged husband, and he hadn’t seen or heard from her.
Stafford said she finds it difficult to believe her friend would have decided to switch plans and head for the North Carolina mountains – unless she had been abducted.
“I’ve known Holly for 20 years, and she doesn’t make decisions on a whim,” Stafford said. “She was last seen in Newport. Clearly, she was headed for Charlotte. If she had planned to go to Ashe County, she would have gone a different route.”
“If she were abducted, however, then anything is possible,” Stafford added.
She said she hopes Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are involved in the search.
Officer Keith Trietley, a spokesman for CMPD, did not disclose the specifics of the department’s involvement. But he confirmed that CMPD had been contacted by Knox County authorities and “was doing anything asked of us.”
Fischer is described as a white female, about 5 feet 10 and 140 pounds, with blond hair. She was wearing a white blouse, blue jean shorts and sandals.
Fischer was driving a silver 2004 Infiniti FX35, with North Carolina license tags XYH-6678. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call 911.
The Observer’s Marion Payntor contributed.
Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107.
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