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Tenn. authorities resume search for nursing student 2 years after abduction; purse found

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sent out search dogs Thursday to look for a young woman who has been missing since she was abducted from her home a little more than two years ago.

Holly Bobo last seen April 13, 2011, when her brother said he saw a man in hunting clothes leading the 20-year-old nursing student into the woods around the family home outside Parsons, about 125 miles northeast of Memphis.

TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said law enforcement officials were using search dogs in an area near Bobo's home.

"Some neighborhood dogs yesterday found what appears to be Holly's purse," Helm said in an email. "We are trying to find where the dogs found the purse."

She said the pink article was turned over to authorities after the dogs dragged it to a home roughly a mile from where Bobo was last seen. Bobo was described as wearing a pink shirt and carrying a pink purse when she disappeared.

Her mother, Karen Bobo, issued a statement Thursday.

"The family is so thankful that TBI is working the case. I understand a purse has been found. Our family has cooperated with TBI and begged TBI to show us the purse but we haven't actually seen it," Bobo's statement said.

The family has always expressed belief that Bobo is alive and her mother said they still think that.

"Today we are at home with our minister praying," the statement said.

When Bobo disappeared, authorities and volunteers conducted massive searches of the hilly, heavily wooded land around the home on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles. The searches found Bobo's lunchbox in the days after she disappeared but little else.

Helm said the area of the latest search had been searched by volunteers previously.

The Decatur County sheriff's department didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. The Tennessee Highway Patrol referred questions to the TBI.

No arrests were ever made in the case. Officials said they didn't consider anyone in the family or Bobo's boyfriend to be involved in her disappearance.

Karen Bobo also thanked their community, which on Saturday held a barbecue and run to mark the second anniversary of the disappearance.

Richard Sopczak (SOHP'-chek), the father of Bobo's best friend, Brittany Brown, said the disappearance has taken its toll on the small town where they live. Many people believe there are those among them who know something about Bobo's disappearance or may have been involved.

"You hear so many rumors and accusations," he said in a phone interview.

He also has been concerned for his own daughter's safety because no one has been arrested.

Brown was in nursing school with Bobo and will be graduating next month.

"My daughter says a prayer for her every day, on Facebook, she posts a prayer," Sopczak said.

A few days ago, Sopczak's younger daughter found a YouTube video that Brown and Bobo had posted.

"Holly and Brittany were singing 'Party in the U.S.A.' by Miley Cyrus, and they had videotaped it," he said. "I think they were freshmen in college. It just brings tears to your eyes."

A reward of $185,000 has been offered in the case. The TBI asks anyone with information to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.