ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Foul play is now suspected in the case of a missing St. Johns County woman, Sheriff David Shoar said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Investigators initially said no foul play was involved in 67-year-old Barbara Parchem's disappearance, but Shoar said circumstances now have led them to believe otherwise, specifically the length of her being missing.
"Our message today is, No. 1, we're not going to stop until we find Barbara," Shoar said.
Deputies stopped searching the area surrounding Parchem's Vermont Heights home two weeks ago but were still following up on leads. Investigators searched using a helicopter, four-wheelers and horses for her.
Her family reported her missing April 6 when she didn't show up for work at Village Inn. Parchem was last seen in the early evening hours of April 5. (She's pictured right entering a convenience store early in the morning of April 5.)
Parchem's car, wallet and credit cards were still at her house, and family members said she had been struggling with personal and health issues.
Investigators went door to door in Parchem's neighborhood passing out flyers, hoping someone had information.
Parchem's daughter, Lilly Ann Chavez, admitted her mother had been going though a lot. She'd been battling cancer, and her husband, who she'd known since she was 13, died recently.
Still, Chavez doesn't believe her mother would hurt herself or just leave.
Shoar said Equusearch, which specializes in searches in missing persons cases, will be joining the search in the next week.
"As a result of some of the evidence, we're going to be conducting some more laser-focused searches in the coming two or three days within St. Johns County," Shoar said.
Shoar said investigators are looking at a "field of individuals," but have not named any persons of interest. He said there are no indications the public is in danger.
"If anybody out there knows anything about where Barbara is or what happened to Barbara, it would behoove them to come forward as soon as possible," said Shoar, who added that he knew Parchem personally.
Parchem is described as 5 feet 3 inches tall and 100 pounds, with brown eyes and short brown hair with blonde highlights.
She was last seen wearing dark pants, a gray hoodie and a dark shirt.
Detectives said they're continuing to seek information from witnesses who may have seen Parchem's car in the southwest portion of St. Johns County the afternoon of April 5. The 2005 red Nissan Pathfinder has a heart in shoe polish on the rear passenger driver's side window.
The St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar made a personal and passionate plea to the community Friday evening, asking them to keep looking for Barbara Parchem, who was last seen three weeks ago.
The Sheriff said Friday they believe something criminal happened to Parchem.
"Our message today is, we won't stop until we find Barbara," said Sheriff Shoar.
Parchem works at the St. Augustine Village in On U.S.1, and her co-workers are still hoping that she'll come home.
"We're just still hoping. Anytime somebody asks if she used to work here, I say no, she still works here. Until I'm told otherwise, she still works here," said Parchem's co-worker, Terri Falandys. "I worry, can't sleep. I pray for her, you know."
"I pray she's still with us, each day, that looks less like a possibility," Shoar told the media Friday. "We find people who do bad things to good people and we make sure they get arrested and prosecuted, but we won't stop, we do it 24hours a day, 7 days a week."
Investigators, friends and family are all hoping Parchem will come home alive, and hope someone has the answers to help find her.
"We're just really glad they're putting all the time and effort into finding her, because we want her home and that's what this is, this is her home," said Falandys.
Friends of Parchem are offering a reward to anyone who has information leading to her whereabouts.
Anyone who has seen seen Parchem or has information that could help the investigation is asked to call Detective Jeremy Russell of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office at 904-209-2193 or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS (8477).