Family seeks answers in woman's disappearance

67-year-old missing since Saturday morning

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The daughter of a missing St. Augustine woman is looking for answers in her mother's disappearance as investigators searched for the third day.

St. Johns County deputies say they are following new leads they hope will help them find 67-year-old Barbara Parchem. Her family reported her missing Saturday when she didn't show up for work.

Investigators don't suspect foul play.

Parchem's car, wallet and credit cards were still at her house, and family members say she had been struggling personal and health issues.

Investigators have been going door to door in Parchem's neighborhood passing out flyers, hoping someone has information. Her family is hoping answers come soon.

"We're frustrated, we're aggravated, we're scared, we're in dire need of some kind of information, some kind of hope," said Lilly Ann Chavez, Parchem's daughter. "We want the best. We want her to be sitting somewhere off enjoying herself and just not ready to come back yet. That's what were hoping for."

Chavez admits 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.

But as the search goes on, Chavez still doesn't believe her mother would hurt herself or just leave.

"If she was feeling any kind of suicidal thing or needed to get away and not be bothered by any of it, she would at least tell one of us so that none of us would be having to go through any of this," Chavez said.

Investigators spent most of the day Monday as they have since Parchem went missing, searching the area near her home, where she was last seen.

"The last information we received was that a family member brought her home Friday night and dropped her off," said Sgt. Catherine Payne, of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. "Her vehicle was still at the residence, so the belief was that she possibly left the area on foot."

Investigators say the challenge now is determining the exact location where she went missing or if there is a secondary location. They're relying on the community and say the feedback has been instrumental in their search.

"So the community has not only responded to us with leads, but they've also taken it upon themselves to go out and post flyers trying to drum up any information about her whereabouts," Payne said.

Those at Parchem's workplace are also handing out flyers. Parchem has worked at a Village Inn for 25 years.

Sylvia Murrhee has been helping cover Parchem's section of the restaurant since Saturday, when she didn't show up for work.

"We just want her back here," Murrhee said.

Parchem, or "Lil' Barb's" section is now marked with signs, pictures and flowers, with a vow that no one will sit at the table until she gets back. Her coworkers say she's earned the spot.

"I mean, she would run circles around all of us," Murrhee said. "I mean, she was just bouncy, perky, you'd never know she was going through what she was going through."

Parchem was still working despite battling cancer and dealing with the loss of her husband. But despite those challenges, Murrhee says she doesn't believe her friend would hurt herself or just leave.

"She wouldn't. I know she wouldn't because she loved life too much she had to go on," Murrhee said. "She had family, she had us, and she ain't one to let nobody down."

That's why she and her coworkers are working to help investigators search for their most requested server. They've been passing out flyers at local businesses, putting up signs, all in the hope to see Parchem come back.

"If it was somebody else's grandmother, somebody else's employee, somebody else's sister, somebody else's mother, they would want all the involvement that the rest of the community could provide. And we want that, too," Village Inn manager Edward Pierce said.

"Just keep her face out there," Murrhee said. "Let everybody know that she is very special, that she's really missed a lot."

As investigators follow leads, Parchem's family hopes someone sees something.

"Just please keep an eye out and look, and if you even think you saw, do a double take," Chavez said.

Parchem is described as 5 feet 8 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.

Anyone who has seen seen Parchem is asked to call 911 or the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office at 904-824-8304.

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