Deputies searched a wooded area in southern St. Johns County on Friday in connection with the case of a 34-year-old woman who disappeared three weeks ago.
Last week, the Sheriff's Office said they had developed a person of interest in the disappearance of Rebecca Ware and said for the first time that foul play is suspected in her disappearance.
Ware, of St. Augustine Shores, was last seen at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 29 when she left her workplace, Hydro America at 200 Riviera Blvd.
The mother of three was reported missing by family members after not showing up for work for two days. Two days later, detectives found her vehicle, a 2005 Ford Focus, in the parking lot of the Wildwood Publix, which is a short distance from her home.
Detectives have not publicly identified the person of interest or said what pieces of new information or physical evidence prompted them to classify Ware as missing and endangered.
On Friday morning, more than a dozen deputies organized a search of woods near the intersection of State Road 207 and County Road 305 near Elkton. In addition to deputies on foot, ATVs and a helicopter was being used in the search, which ended just before noon but was expected to resume Saturday.
"We've developed information throughout this case that this is one of several locations we'll be checking over the next couple of days," Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said.
Ware's family said she has been the victim of domestic violence multiple times with multiple abusers. Mulligan said the family has been notified of the new search activity.
"It's been like a living nightmare. Can't think, can't eat, can't sleep," said Gladys Varnadore, Ware's mother. "I mean, no answers, no nothing. Nobody wants, I mean, they can't tell you nothing. It's just all a bad dream. I'm just thinking it is."
"They're searching for her in the woods, so what do you think? You naturally think the worst," added Theresa Nolan, Ware's aunt. "So then the little hope that I had had just kind of fell, you know, just fell."
Ware is the fourth woman to disappear in St. Johns County this year. The first two, Brittany Tavar and Jan Keller, were killed. The case of Shannon Hawkins, who disappeared in July, is still unsolved.
"I sleep but I wake up because I always think that she's there," Varnadore said. "When I close my eyes, I see her. And when I wake up, she's gone. I'm just so fed up. I don't know what to do. Sometimes I think I may lose my mind, and I know I can't because I've got to be strong."
Ware is 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair with blond highlights.
Ware's employer, Hydro America, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individuals who may be responsible for her disappearance. There is also the existing Crime Stoppers reward of $1,000.
Anyone who may have come in contact with Ware since she disappeared or who may have additional information concerning her whereabouts should contact Crime Stoppers 888-277-8477 or the St. Johns County robbery/homicide section at 904-824-8304.