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Investigators Focus Search for Missing Missouri Mom on Park, Woods

Investigators are focusing their search for a missing Missouri mom on a park near her home, using dogs to look for evidence in her disappearance.

Neighbors of 35-year-old Northland resident Renee Pernice, who hasn't been seen since Jan. 2, are worried.

"We're all just feeling uneasy right now," Debbie Scott told MyFOXKC.com. "We are concerned about what's going on and we just what it all to end, we want her to come home and all this to just be over."

A K-9 unit helped in the search on Wednesday. Detectives spent most of the day combing a park and a heavily wooded area behind it near Pernice's house.

They have been questioning the teacher's Army husband Sgt. Shon Pernice through his attorney, who has advised his client not to comment publicly or to police directly about the case because he believes he is being blamed for his wife's disappearance, the Kansas City Star reported.

Investigators and the father of the missing mother of three say they suspect foul play.

The couple had been periodically having marital problems. After initiating divorce proceedings in 2005, the Pernices voluntarily withdrew the filing in 2007 because they reconciled. But when Shon Pernice returned recently from serving in Iraq as a medic, things got rocky again, according to the Star.

Shon Pernice’s lawyer, Kevin Baldwin, told the paper that his client has given police access to his van and locker at work.

“He misses her; he wants her back even if she chooses not to be with him; she needs to be there for the kids,” Baldwin said.

Shon Pernice said he was sleeping in the basement when his wife told him she was going out about 9 a.m. Jan. 2. He claims he doesn't remember where she said she was heading or what she was wearing because he was tired.. She took her cell phone and keys with her, he said.

He was apparently the last person to see Renee. Her father, Rick Pretz, reported her missing after she didn't return phone calls from her parents. Pretz said he last spoke to his daughter about 7 p.m. on New Year's Day.

“We fear something bad has happened," Pretz told the Star.

Her cell phone was found about 12 to 15 miles away from the Pernices' home in an area with no connection to the missing woman, according to police.

Renee Pernice was due back at work teaching nursing students at St. Luke's College this week.

Shon Pernice spoke to MyFOX Kansas City over the summer about the stress he was feeling after coming home from Iraq. He said Fourth of July fireworks had made him jittery.

"Over there ... you may be blown up and killed, especially just driving around Iraq in a convoy situation," he told the station. "There's people that hate us very much over there."

Click here to watch the interview with Shon and Renee Pernice.

Anyone with any information about the missing woman is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.

Click here for more on this story from MyFOXKC.com.

Click here for more from the Kansas City Star.