Despite authorities confirming that two disappearances are unrelated and pose no threat to locals, the vanishing of two women within three days, in the same area, remains unexplained.
A search began to find Svetlana Ustimenko, 55, in the Arapaho National Forest, Colorado, on August 11.
Three days later a short distance away, Melissa Whitsitt, 34, was last seen near Winter Park, Colorado, before she failed to show up for work that day, August 13.
Authorities have assured the local community that the two cases are not related and pose no threat to people in the area.
Melissa’s phone was used to make several calls by an unknown man on the same day in Denver to contact other phones in the area, but the phone has now been turned off.
Both Winter Park, where Melissa went missing and the Arapaho National Forest, where authorities searched for Ustimenko, are found near the US Route 40, a major road that connects east to west.
Melissa had moved to Colorado in May to begin a job at Winter Park Resort but she was reported missing, on August 13 when she did not turn up for work, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said.
Her parents, Cindy and Jerry Whitsitt drove to Winter Park from West Tennessee to search for their daughter in a five-mile radius near Union Station.
They have been passing out flyers and asking if anyone has spotted her.
Cindy Whitsitt CBS News: “There are two detectives in the department here in Denver and we found that unacceptable.”
“Some of the law enforcement have been very eager to help us but they are understandably outnumbered. Like a needle in a haystack.”
The family grew up in Tennessee and said Melissa was extremely excited to start her new life in Winter Park.
Her mother said: “She is a livewire, always has been, she is very loud; you would see her or hear her if she is anywhere out there.”
Melissa has not used her debit card recently and has not contacted her friends or family.
Cindy shared two old photos of Melissa with blonde hair on Facebook adding that there are reasons for the three different pictures of her daughter.
In a separate case, Svetlana’s rental car was seen parked at the Deadhorse Trailhead area in late July.
The vehicle was supposed to be returned on August 10 but it was left stationary for an extended period with no sign of her, authorities said.
The investigation found Svetlana, who is from Florida, was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and she was struggling as she tried to cope, and was attracted to the Colorado mountains.
A team of local authorities combined with search and rescue teams and cadaver dogs have been searching the area since August 11.
Officials were unable to locate Ustimenko despite the help of off-trail ground rescuers, drones, horses, and 750 volunteer hours.
The sheriff’s office concluded that she was not in the primary area and the search was suspended on Tuesday pending new information.