Next week will mark the two-month anniversary of the disappearance of Holly Bobo, the young nursing student abducted in rural Tennessee. Bobo, 20, was last seen April 13 being led into the woods near her home by a camouflaged individual.
Despite national media coverage, extensive police searches and investigation, and an $80,000 reward, neither Bobo nor her abductor have been found. Police are no longer actively searching for her and have no suspects, though the investigation remains open and ongoing.
The case was plagued by misinformation from the start, when early reports suggested that Bobo's brother Clint might have changed his eyewitness story from saying that he saw Holly being dragged into the woods; it was later clarified that Holly had in fact walked with her abductor either willingly or by force.
This false lead led to rumors that Clint Bobo was a suspect in Holly's disappearance, followed by country music singer Whitney Duncan defending him in a April 17 Twitter statement: "My cousin Clint, Holly's brother, is NOT a suspect & I'm sick of people saying that he is. He has been cleared for good reason. Shut up.” That, too, was misinformation: In fact according to police, no one has been “cleared” in the case, including Clint — though he was never called a suspect in the first place.
All the rumors, gossip, and false leads have complicated the search for Bobo. Police have complained that well-meaning individuals have been disseminating misinformation about the case, making their job much more difficult.
According to an ABC News report, “Kristin Helm, the public information officer for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, says there have been no new developments in the past few weeks. The only development has been the TBI claiming that an Ohio-based group called Tactical Search and Rescue is hindering their investigation with "false leads" and "incorrect" information.
The volunteer group insists they are not interfering and that they continue to receive three to four good leads a week that are not being taken seriously by officials.”
Tactical Search and Rescue is not the only group of volunteers who have been complicating the search for Holly Bobo with wrong information. Dozens of self-proclaimed psychics have offered hundreds of incorrect, vague, and often contradictory tips. Here's a sample of information and leads offered by psychics on this case:
Bobo's abductor might have a scar on his forehead, or a rash on his elbow, or a bite mark on his hand. He might work from home as a graphic designer and long for the 1950s. His hair might be dark brown, or blonde, or salt and pepper. He might be clean shaven, or he might have a moustache. He might be a Scorpio. He is either scrawny, or of medium build, or stocky and muscular — possibly ex-military. He might own a black leather wallet, and his name might contain one or more of the following letters: B, A, J, R, W, or M; his last name might be Glenn. Bobo might be (or might have been at one point) in or near a place that has the number 7 associated with it, either an address or a highway number or possibly seven miles from some landmark.
One person said she believed that the lyrics of the Neil Diamond song "September Morning" contained important clues to finding Bobo.
It's not clear how police are supposed to use this jumble of random associations, images, numbers, letters, and feelings provided by psychics. This information is so vague, general and contradictory that it is completely useless; police need specific, accurate information that leads them to Bobo. Immense time and resources would be wasted if police tried to follow up on even the most credible of these "leads."
On April 14, one psychic confidently stated that Bobo would be found alive, that her abductor makes lots of mistakes and would be captured within five days. Tragically, this information, like all the other informaion from psychics, turned out to be wrong.
The case even attracted the attention of a prominent TV psychic, Carla Baron, who said that a friend of the Bobo family had contacted her on their behalf. Baron was part of the TruTV show Haunting Evidence, in which she and two other investigators tackled real-life unsolved murders. The show was cancelled after 22 episodes without any of the cases having been solved; two were later closed through police work. Baron also claimed several years ago that she solved the Natalee Holloway case, yet the case remains open and no one has been charged in Holloway's death.
Despite offering her services for free, Baron said that the Bobo family later chose not to seek her information on Holly's death on the advice of the police, who, Baron believes, were "terrified to hear what I might have to say" about the abduction. (The fact that psychic detectives have a zero track record of success locating missing persons might also have something to do with it.)
When a tragedy like this strikes, the community comes together. Sincere, well-meaning volunteers pitch in to help out however they can: posting missing person flyers, joining searches, and even contacting police with rumors and psychic impressions.
According to a police spokesman, while those who offer random and false information "may be pure hearted, do interfere with law enforcement's work." Despite the efforts of dozens of psychics over two months, Bobo remains missing, the case remains unsolved, and a family remains torn apart.