It’s been 11 years since Michelle Parker went missing, and about eight years since a search of this magnitude was conducted.
Investigators are following up on one of the 20 tips that have been called in since Wednesday when a new reward was posted for information leading to her disappearance.
Without revealing exactly what the tipster said, police believe one tip was credible enough to issue a search of the woods near Port St. John.
The Parker family spent Saturday morning alongside investigators, and said they are hopeful and anxious for closure.
“I didn’t even know this area existed, but now that I look at a map, it’s possible,” said Yvonne Stewart, Parker’s mother.
“$200,000 is a lot of money and someone volunteering to do that is huge, so we’re really grateful for that,” said Lauren Erickson, Parker’s sister, referring to the tip and reward.
Central Florida search-and-rescue volunteers teamed up with police to scan the area with ATVs and seven K-9 dogs, while the Winter Park JROTC scanned overhead with drones.
“It gives me anxiety because you’re hopeful that they find something,” Steward said. “(We’re) grateful that they’re doing it and sad because we miss her so much.”
Parker’s sister said that while they are extremely appreciative, experiencing this is not easy.
“It’s been 11 years, so it almost feels like it didn’t happen but it did,” she said. “And we have to relive that.”
Erickson said they are grateful that even 11 years later, people care about Parker.
The Parker family is determined to find her because they hope that someone will finally come forward with the right information to help them fulfill the promise they made to Michelle.
“You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be,” Erickson said. “We told her we will never give up, so we won’t.”
Anyone with information that could help investigators should call Crimeline at 800-423-8477 or the Orlando Police Department at 321-235-5300.