Anyone with information regarding Laurie Marie Sheppa’s whereabouts may call Forsyth County Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Garrison at (678) 513-5986 or the sheriff’s Crime Stoppers tip line at (770) 888-7308. Callers may remain anonymous.
Nearly a month after a Forsyth County woman went missing, authorities returned Thursday to a wooded area near her home to continue their search.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Huggins said an extensive ground search in the vicinity of Laurie Marie Sheppa’s Goldmine Drive apartment turned up no evidence of a body or her whereabouts.
Sheppa, 49, has been missing since Aug. 19, when she apparently walked away from her home. She was last seen about 11 a.m. wearing a T-shirt, shorts and brown leather sandals.
Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Garrison said no evidence has been found that would indicate foul play.
“She walked out of that apartment with no cell phones, no credit cards, no ID that we know of,” Garrison said. “She doesn’t have a vehicle. She just walked out.”
He said Sheppa’s diabetes medication was also found at her apartment.
Authorities have “exhaustingly interviewed” Sheppa’s acquaintances with no luck, Garrison said.
Sheppa has disappeared before, for a few days at a time, but always surfaced at a hospital or psychiatric facility.
"We contacted all metro hospitals and psychiatric wards on a daily basis," Garrison said. "Hopefully, they’re telling me the truth that she’s not there, but the reality is that we’ve gone to those lengths.
"The media alert did give us a few tips we followed up on, but nothing seems to stick."
Garrison said Sheppa's mother waited until Aug. 23 to report her daughter missing because she thought she would turn up.
“When we first got this case we were hoping that, based on history and what she’s done in the past, that we would actually see her show back up again,” Garrison said.
“This is the longest period of time she has actually been missing.”
He said Sheppa, who is on medical disability and had worked previously at Target for several years, has "no enemies."
"She had no cash -- she had to borrow $20 from a friend the previous day just to get a prescription filled -- and her Social Security check didn’t come until the first of the month."
Sheppa’s sister, Darla Drake, said the family is holding out hope her sister will be found unharmed.
“It’s extremely difficult,” Drake said. “We’re hoping that she’s well but don’t understand where she could be.”
Drake confirmed her sister has never gone missing for this long before and said family members are taking care of Sheppa’s dog.
She said a description given by someone who thought they saw Sheppa didn’t match.
“They said they’d asked this lady where she was going and she was walking to Miami,” Drake said. “My sister didn’t walk really well. She doesn’t know anybody in Miami.”
Drake said her sister had at one time mentioned going to see their brother in Germany, though that would be an unlikely destination.
“We’re hoping that she calls or somebody calls if they’ve seen her, but so far, nothing,” Drake said.