Fayetteville, N.C. — Delicate butterflies fluttering through the air symbolized the fragile hope that the loved ones of a missing Fort Bragg soldier have of seeing her again.
The husband, sister, nephew and best friend of Pfc. Kelli Bordeaux, 23, last seen three months ago, prayed and released more than 100 butterflies in her honor during a ceremony at Hotrodz on Sycamore Dairy Road Saturday.
"Knowing that there is still the possibility that she is still out there and she just needs to be found – it's easier to deal with the frustration of not knowing," said Bordeaux's sister, Olivia Cox.
They said the butterflies were delicate, beautiful and full of life – just like Bordeaux. She had butterflies released on her wedding day.
Bordeaux's husband, Michael, struggled to hold back his emotions as he talked to the volunteers who have searched for Bordeaux since she went missing early April 14.
"Everyone knows how special Kelli is. I just want to to say thank you," he said.
Investigators have not named any suspects in her disappearance but have said they believe she left the Froggy Bottoms bar on Ramsey Street with Nicholas Holbert, a 25-year-old convicted sex offender, whom she met there a week earlier.
Holbert, who lived in a lean-to behind the bar, claims that he dropped her off at the entrance to the apartment complex where she lived with her husband, who was in Florida visiting family that weekend. Holbert says he had nothing to do with the disappearance but was recently arrested for failure to register as a sex offender.
Bordeaux was last seen wearing a pink tube top, black shorts and a pair of flip-flops that investigators have described as "bedazzled."
Police have set up a special hotline – 910-433-1114 – for tips in the case, and an $8,000 reward is being offered for information leading to her discovery.
Volunteers planned to begin searching in new areas next Saturday.
"Keep on looking. Keep on searching," Cox said. "Kelli is still missing, and we still need her to come home, and we still need everyone's help to find her."