Separate searches are underway for two missing women who vanished from a popular Colorado resort town within days of each other.
Melissa Whitsitt, 34, was reported missing on 13 August after she failed to show up to her job at the Winter Park resort, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Ms Whitsitt had moved from Tennessee to Colorado in May for the job and was extremely excited to start her new life in Winter Park, her family said.
The missing woman was last seen on Woodspur Lane. Her phone was used by an “unknown male” to make several calls from the Denver area but it has since been turned off, the Denver Gazette reported.
Just days earlier, on 11 August, authorities had started a search to find another missing woman, 55-year-old Svetlana Ustimenko after her rental car was found parked at the Deadhorse Trailhead area in the Arapaho National Forest in late July.
The vehicle was supposed to be returned on August 10 but it was left parked “for an extended period of time” with no sign of her, authorities said.
Multiple searches took place on August 12-13 and again on 18 August and 20 August, but there was no sign of Ms Ustimenko, who is from Florida.
An investigation found Ustimenko was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and she was “struggling as she tried to cope and was attracted to the Colorado mountains”.
On 22 August, the search was suspended pending new information.
The sheriff’s office says the two cases are not related and reassured local residents that there is no threat to the community.
Ms Whitsitt’s parents Cindy and Jerry Whitsitt, have since travelled to Winter Park from their home in Tennessee to search for their daughter.
“Like a needle in a haystack,” Cindy Whitsitt told CBS News. “Some of the law enforcement have been very eager to help us but they are understandably outnumbered, there are literally two detectives in the department here in Denver and we found that unacceptable.”
The missing woman had not been in contact with her friends or family since she was last seen and has not used her debit card.
A photo of Ms Whitsitt with brown hair has been released by the sheriff’s office, but her mother recently shared two old photos of her daughter with blonde hair on Facebook and said “there are reasons for the three different pics”.
She added that her daughter may have changed her hair colour but would be easy to spot in public.
“She is a livewire,” her heartbroken mother said, teary eyed.
“Always has been, she is very loud; you would see her or hear her if she is anywhere out there.”
“Melissa,if you see us, just call us,” she pleaded.
Anyone with information about Ms Whitsitt is asked to contact the Winter Park Police Department at 970-722-7779. Anyone who believes they may have seen or talked to Ustimenko is asked to contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 970-725-3311.