Search for Missing Woman Suspended

01/11/10 6:10 pm | reporter: David Tate producer: Scott Wilson

Franklin Co., VA - After searching a remote Franklin County mountaintop for a missing Patrick County woman over the past week, the Franklin County Sheriff's Department is calling off the search, for now. Investigators are looking for 50-year-old Letisha Faust since she was reported missing from the Stuart area of Patrick County on December 9th. Investigators say that Faust was picking up a prescription and dinner for her elderly mother when she went missing. On New Year's Eve, Faust's car was found at a cottage of a North Carolina couple... which is where authorities have focused their search. Investigators spent a second day searching a small pond nearby on Monday. The team pulled up camp about 3:00 p.m., confident they had cleared the frozen pond as a location where Letisha Faust may have been found. Three weeks after Letisha Faust went missing, investigators found her car parked near this secluded vacation cottage called Walnut Knob. Inside: Her wallet, money and the dinner she was bringing her mother. It was a huge break for investigators who have since combed mountain ridges, checking dormant mountain cottages. Lt. Steve McGuire/Franklin Co. Sheriff's Department -"We have covered about this entire mountain and ridge on foot and we've been unsuccessful." And now are looking under the ice. A hunch that solidified when a cadaver dog found a sandal, beneath the ice covered snow, between the cottage and a pond. "This is the warmest it's been since we've been searching and it was 15 degrees this morning; it's been single digits up 'til now." Lt. Steve McGuire is heading up the search. With the help from a special submersible camera, which is on a 300-foot tether controlled from a tent, McGuire and the others were able to comfortably conclude that Faust is likely not beneath the ice. "After today we're going to have to regroup and wait until the weather is more conducive to search because there's not a lot we can do with the pond once it's cleared." That doesn't mean the search in this area is off for good. "I feel like were going to have to wait until the weather clears somewhat or at least some of the snow melts off before we're able to come up and do any additional searching." That's because Faust disappeared before we got hit by that major snow and ice storm, which was especially rough up in those higher elevations. With rescuers confident the pond has been cleared, their focus is now going to turn back to the slopes, and they need that snow and ice gone to search thoroughly.

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