New Information Sheds Light On Wendell Woman's Disappearance
Posted August 29, 2006 2:13 a.m. EDT
Updated December 31, 2006 10:38 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh police released new information on Monday that they hope will lead to the discovery of a Wendell woman who has been missing for nearly a week.
Investigators said an analysis of soil and plant matter recovered from Cynthia Moreland's car determined the material had come from a white mulberry tree or bush, which is common throughout the area along roadsides and places that have been cleared for construction.
Moreland's cellular phone, authorities also said, had led investigators to Antonio Chance, 29, who was arrested in connection with the disappearance.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the phone was in the possession of a man who said he bought it from someone on the street who goes by the nickname of "Tone." Authorities later tracked that name to Chance.
Investigators remain very guarded with information in their search for Moreland, 48, who was last seen last Tuesday morning when she dropped her husband off at work.
"We would not withhold any information that might help clear the case and locate Mrs. Moreland," Sughrue said on Monday, saying that decisions on what to release were in the best interest of the investigation.
Meanwhile, friends and family members wait for news on Moreland's whereabouts holding prayer vigils and special services. Nearly 30 people gathered Monday night in Knightdale at Moreland's daughter's house to pray and hope that Moreland makes it back to them safe.
A reward of up to $20,000 for information that helps authorities find Moreland is being offered by Progress Energy and Mount Peace Baptist Church, where Moreland is a member. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact authorities at 919-890-3555.
After almost seven days of not knowing where his wife is, Walter Moreland said Monday night that he gets his strength from a higher power.
"It's through God that I'm holding up," he said. "He gives us all strength, and we build on that strength to help us get through this difficult time."
According to investigators, Moreland's access card to a Wilmington Street parking garage in downtown Raleigh was used at 6:40 a.m. Aug. 22, but she never reported to her job at Progress Energy's headquarters, located above the parking garage.
On Wednesday morning, police found her 1998 gray Toyota Camry abandoned on Malta Avenue in southeast Raleigh.
Police on Wednesday evening released surveillance video taken at a Garner Dollar General store and showing a man later identified as Chance, who authorities said apparently had tried to use Moreland's ATM card. That transaction was shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Witness testimony also led investigators to Chance, police said. A woman on Haywood Street in southeast Raleigh said she told police she saw a man matching Chance's description walking the street trying to sell the phone.
Chance was arrested on Friday and charged with kidnapping and obtaining property by false pretenses. He is being held on $1 million bond at the Wake County Jail. Police, however, have not said whether Chance is cooperating with investigators.
Police said they have no evidence that Moreland knew Chance and said they believe he acted alone.
At Monday night's prayer vigil, the group held hands and even prayed said a prayer for Chance.
"We just ask that God would open up (Chance's) mouth and let him see what he needs to do, and that is tell us where she is," said Pastor Don Edwards. "And I pray that the Lord will just have mercy on him."