WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Investigators with the Wilmington Police Department now believe there may be foul play surrounding Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk's disappearance.
Ten days have passed since 53-year-old Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk's family members reported her missing and officers with the Wilmington Police are still searching for her.
According to police, new information in the investigation have led police to believe that Vannewkirk may have been harmed. Police did not say what that new information was, but say it is not a statement they make lightly.
"We don't say it lightly. It is something that our investigators feel strongly about that foul play was involved at some point or another in her disappearance," said Linda Rawley with the Wilmington Police Department. Police are still following leads and searching for any information that will lead to her whereabouts.
Family members and friends say Shannon was last seen Saturday, April 5 at The Husk Bar in downtown Wilmington the day before her 54th birthday.
Michele Seidman who has known Shannon for around 20 years said that Shannon was excited about her birthday weekend. She said Shannon got her hair done, and reportedly told her hairdresser that she was going on a date that night.
The next day, Shannon's family came to her home to celebrate her birthday but they say Shannon was not there.
"She had big lunch plans with her mom and aunt on Sunday," Seidman explained. "They came on Sunday and [Shannon] wasn't there, so they left the presents on the porch. She never called in which was unusual for Shannon because she is very much in touch with her family. They came back Monday morning first thing and the presents were still on the porch. They got a hold of the police who helped to do a welfare check and found out Shannon wasn't there. She has been missing since then and as far as we know without a trace."
Seidman said it is very unlike Shannon not to call her family, Shannon's brother said she usually talks to her mom every day.
"She was the kind of person that contacted her family all the time, so that being said, it made it very clear early on that something was wrong," said Seidman. "She knew a lot of people and a lot of people are worried," she explained later on.
A search team assembled Tuesday morning on Fifth Street to look for Vannewkirk, who was often seen riding her segway in downtown Wilmington.
Friends and family held a candlelight vigil Thursday to raise awareness about Shannon's disappearance. They are hoping it leads to tips for police and answers.
"She is gone, and we don't really know anything. Someone out there knows something and that's why we have to spread the word. Someone may have seen something, someone may have heard something," said Seidman.
According to police, Shannon is 5'5", 105 lbs. with brown eyes and dark brown hair.
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