Thanks to a new tip, local and state authorities are combing a wooded area near Atlanta today in the hopes of finding the remains of a woman who mysteriously disappeared more than 20 years ago.
Sherri Vanessa Holland was last seen in Flagler Beach, Florida, on the morning of August 16, 1996, as she was preparing to head back to Atlanta, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said.
On August 24, 1996, Holland’s BMW was found abandoned on the side of Interstate 75 with a flat tire in Morrow, Georgia, about 15 miles south of Atlanta, the GBI said.
Now, a tipster said items were found “that were purported to be” “Holland’s personal effects,” Morrow Police Chief James Callaway told ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB on Tuesday.
The new anonymous tip is the hottest lead investigators have received in 20 years, Callaway told WSB.
When police found Holland’s car in 1996, there was a loaded gun, a purse and more than $2,400 in cash inside, but no wallet and no suitcases, Callaway told WSB.
Holland’s dogs were also found miles away from the car, Callaway said, but Holland had vanished without a trace. Foul play is suspected, he said.
“It’s like this person just vanished off the face of the planet,” Callaway told WSB.
Holland had homes in both Flagler Beach and the Atlanta area, according to authorities.
She ran an escort business, Callaway told WSB, adding, “Whatever her profession was, it’s incumbent upon us as a law enforcement agency to seek justice.”
“It’s our hope and it’s my personal prayer that we do find Sherri Holland out there in the woods [Wednesday] to bring some closure to this family,” he said.
The Morrow Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on Wednesday.
The GBI is also involved in the search, a spokeswoman told ABC News, though she declined to comment further, directing inquiries to the Morrow police.
Anyone with information about Holland’s disappearance is asked to call the Morrow Police Department at 770-960-3003 or the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS.