CLEVELAND, GA - As result of the ongoing investigation by the Union County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into the disappearance of Kristi Cornwell, investigators are asking for the publics' help in identifying the man in a sketch who was involved in an incident in Ranger, North Carolina in early August. Ranger is 25 miles from the site where Kristi disappeared. The timing and the vehicle description involved in this incident indicate a possible connection to Kristi's disappearance.
Kristi Cornwell was last heard from at approximately 9:00 pm on August 11 while walking on Jones Creek Road in Blairsville, Georgia.
The incident in Ranger occurred around 9:00pm on August 2 while a woman was walking along a road toward the Ranger Community Center. A vehicle pulled up behind her and knocked her to the ground. A man got out of the vehicle and as he approached the woman, another car drove up and the man left. As the man drove by, the woman, who was not seriously injured, saw his profile since the driver's side window was rolled down. She also noticed that the vehicle is a silver, late model SUV. The North Carolina State Patrol was notified and interviewed the woman, but no report was filed.
After media reports of Kristi's disappearance included that a white or light colored SUV was seen in that area of Union County the evening of August 11, the woman called the tip line to report what had happened to her.
With the assistance from the Cherokee County North Carolina Sheriff's Offices and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, GBI agents have been pursuing this lead. GBI Forensic Artist Marla Lawson completed a sketch of the Ranger suspect based on the woman's description. She indicated that he is a white male in his mid-20's with dark hair.
The woman also told agents that the vehicle was a silver, late model Nissan Xterra with tinted windows and with a brush guard on the front.
Using the sketch and vehicle description, authorities conducted numerous neighborhood canvasses in Cherokee County but were not successful in developing solid leads. It was also determined that between 400 and 500 vehicles matching the suspect vehicle are registered in that area of North Carolina.
Investigators are now asking anyone with information on the possible identity of the man in the sketch or on the Nissan Xterra to please call the GBI Tip Line at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).
To date, GBI agents have conducted 1,168 individual, documented investigative acts as part of this continuing investigation. This does not include the 11 days of active searching for Kristi during August in Union County by numerous local, state and federal agencies. Six hundred and sixty-four (664) tips were called in to the tip line and investigated. The neighborhood canvassing involved conducting interviews at 450 houses in the area. The GBI case file is now 32 volumes and continues to expand as additional information is developed and thoroughly investigated.
The disappearance of Kristi Cornwell has been and will continue to be an investigative priority for the GBI and the Union County Sheriff's Office.
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