A mother and her three children from Virginia have been missing for almost two weeks, but search efforts were only set in motion a few days after they went missing, police said.
Lauren Cook, 30, and her children, a 7-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy all mysteriously vanished after they were supposed to turn up at a family member’s home, but never arrived.
Ms Cook and her children were last seen on 5 September in Franklin County, but since then communication with Ms Cook has been unsuccessful, Franklin County police said.
The investigation is unusual, as there are no sure signs of why Ms Cook may have disappeared with her children.
Ms Cook is married and lives with her husband, who has full custody of their children. There are no records or 911 calls in Franklin County that show any signs of a domestic dispute between the couple.
“A lot of times you see these situations where a parent loses custody and takes the kids and runs away. This doesn’t seem to be like that,” the Franklin County police department’s public information officer, Sgt Megan Huston, told The New York Post.
“But they’re not originally from here so I can’t say if something has or has not happened elsewhere, I’m not privy to that information,” Ms Huston said. “It’s a complex situation that we have limited details on.”
Ms Cook’s husband is very concerned about the whereabouts of his family. “He’s upset, as any parent would be of ‘where are my children at?’,” Ms Huston told WSLS.
Officials said it was presumed she could have been in New York at one point, but they say she could have still been in Franklin County or somewhere else in Virginia. Police are unsure of where Ms Cook and her children could be.
"Anytime anything involves children they want to make sure the children are safe," Ms Huston told Fox News. "We have gotten an outpouring of support for trying to locate this family and we would appreciate any additional shares of any news media coverage on this so that we can locate Lauren and her children."
Authorities say that while they are unable to reach Ms Cook, a key clue to their investigation is her mobile phone, which last pinged in Lexington, Virginia on 7 September.
Deputies also said there has been no activity on her bank account, reported WSLS.
It is thought that the mother and her three children could be travelling in a blue 2013 Chrysler van with Virginia tags.