KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Fewer than 200 days after Layla Santanello was reported missing, a community-wide search was organized to find answers regarding what happened to her.
The search was organized by Santanello’s father and stepmother along with their private investigator Steve Fischer.
The plan is to search near one of the last spots where Layla was reportedly seen.
“The last known sighting it currently is the Marble Slab Creamery, from what I understand,” Fischer sid. “The thinking is that this is the most likely area, if she wasn’t taken somewhere, if she was on foot.”
The Kingsport Police Department conducted its own search previously, but Fischer said this search is not one sanctioned by police.
“They’re not participating in the search,” Fischer said. “But they definitely said if there’s any problems or anything I have their cell phone numbers and they’re supportive of us being here.”
Layla’s stepmother, Brittany Zeitler, said she hopes the search will help give some answers.
“I thought it was a great way to get the community to come together to look through spots where she could potentially be at,” Zeitler said.
In a statement to News Channel 11, Layla’s mother, Jennifer Santanello, said: “I want to thank my community for coming together during this devastating time, lifting us up, and supporting our efforts to find our little girl. I especially wish to express my gratitude to every community member who will be out searching for Layla tomorrow.”
Police said there is no evidence that the missing women knew each other. They’ve looked into a possible connection between the two, but have not found anything to suggest that the cases are connected.
However, the connection is something that has crossed the mind of Hollynn’s foster mother, Leslie Hunt.
“I know that they have mutual acquaintances,” Hunt said. “They ran around in some of the same circles. But other than that, I don’t believe that they knew each other.”
Both Hunt and Zeitler said the families have found comfort in one another, due to the similar situations both families are in.
“It’s not something I want to go through at all,” Hunt said. “But it is good to know that I’m going through it with them, and with Heather (Snapp), too.”
“It’s great to have each other to lean on,” Zeitler said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at SearchforLayla.com. The vigil will take place at 5:30 pm behind Marble Slab Creamery.