Where is Misti Whitfield?
The 35-year-old Plant City woman has been missing for more than a month.
A private investigator is on the case, and her family fears the worst. They held a vigil in Plant City Tuesday night.
It comes after the last 32 days of praying, searching and clinging to one single hope: that somewhere Misti Whitfield is alive and waiting to be found.
"It's mind boggling. You've heard the stories. People tell you all the time. What could be your worst possible nightmare, but I know it always comes down to that. we're living that right now," said Mel Ardelean, Misti's stepfather.
The mother of five vanished more than a month ago. She was last seen walking home in Tampa at west Hillsborough and North Rome Avenue.
Tampa police say she's had trouble with dependency problems in the past, but has never been gone for so long.
"It's not easy not having the closure. Every day, you wake up waiting for a phone call, and it's no word," said Jackie Woods, who is the father of Misti's oldest child. "I wake up in the middle of the night and look at pictures. It's very hard, and you've got your daughter, you're trying to be strong for your daughter. It's not easy."
Hope is now fading, though. A private investigator hired by the family says he believes Misti was murdered over money by someone she knew.
"I believe we do have one individual that committed murder. That murdered Misti Whitfield. It was calculated and it was with malice and forethought," said investigator Brad Sparkman.
While Tampa police detectives look into the information, family and friends say they'll keep looking too, until Misti is finally brought home.
"As we gather here tonight, let your prayers and your faith show Misti that we love her, and that her community is behind her 100 percent, and that we have united on her behalf," said friend Chrystal England.
There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to Misti's whereabouts.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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