Crime

Friend: Missing ASU student was ‘distressed’

A missing Appalachian State University freshman appeared to be emotionally distressed shortly before she went missing, a family friend said Tuesday.

The Rev. Dana McKim of Lexington, speaking on behalf of Anna Smith's parents, said the 18-year-old went home to High Point over the Labor Day weekend and was disturbed over conflicts with friends.

McKim, a friend of Laurie and Dan Smith, the missing woman’s parents, said he had known Anna since she was 6 years old.

He also said Anna Smith may have left her dormitory room with items she took when she wanted to study by herself.

Appalachian State campus police continued the search Tuesday for Smith, who was last seen Sept. 3. Police said she was seen at her residence hall that evening, but a sweep of wooded areas near the Boone campus and elsewhere in Watauga County has failed to produce a trace of the woman.

Also Tuesday, ASU police said another student came forward to report a sexual assault involving a stranger that occurred a few days before Smith disappeared.

While authorities said they have no evidence that the two events were linked, the report was troubling on the campus, coming in the first weeks of the fall semester.

Campus police said that a female student came forward near midnight Monday to report that she had been assaulted by a man at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 29. It occurred in woods near the campus tennis courts behind the athletic complex on the northwest side of campus.

Police said the man was white, in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He had a buzz-style haircut, scruffy beard and tattoos on both arms from shoulder to elbow.

Police did not say what made the victim come forward to make the report. But the campus, about two hours northwest of Charlotte, has been focused on Smith's disappearance since late last week.

Three other cases of sexual misconduct have been reported so far this semester, police said, but they all involved acquaintances.

ASU officials said police are using interviews, forensic examinations of records, surveillance video and other means to find the missing woman.

McKim said that when the Anna Smith came home over the Labor Day weekend, family members noticed that she was distressed.

She was sad and upset because of “conflicts and disagreements with family and friends,” McKim said.

He said he and family members are concerned because Smith “knows how deeply loved she is” and knows her disappearance would cause family and friends grief.

Police describe Anna Smith as being 5 feet 9 inches tall with a slender build. She has short red or blond hair and blue eyes. Smith has nose piercings and a black-and-white sunflower tattoo on her upper right chest near her collarbone.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Appalachian State University Police Department at 828-262-2150.

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