Ivy Dawn Merck had told people that she was leaving Athens to visit her parents in her hometown of Kingsland in south Georgia’s Camden County, but she never arrived.
The University of Georgia graduate left notes in the car for her parents and roommate that described personal problems she needed to work out, authorities said.
Merck did not appear to be suicidal in the notes, according to Deputy William Terrell of the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.
“The notes she left in her car are a bit vague and open to interpretation, but there was no direct implication that she intended to hurt herself,” Terrell said.
Still, authorities are looking for the woman with great urgency because they cannot rule out the possibility of foul play, according to Terrell.
“On the one hand, there’s no indication thus far that any crime has been committed, but on the other hand, her car was abandoned at a place she had never been to before, somewhere she didn’t know anyone,” Terrell said.
On Aug. 21, Merck told her roommate and supervisor at Good Hands Veterinary Hospital in Athens she was leaving to visit her parents, said Terrell.
She boarded her dog in Kingsland on Aug. 23, but never arrived at her parents’ house. That’s when Steven Merck filed a missing persons report with Athens-Clarke police.
Authorities listed Merck as a missing person in state and national law enforcement databases, and on Aug. 30, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy found the woman’s car in a parking lot in Deerfield Beach, just south of Boca Raton and about 350 miles from Kingsland.
Some of her belongings were in the car, but authorities did not find Merck’s cellphone, Terrell said.
The missing woman’s father is mystified and worried about what happened.
“We last spoke with Ivy on (Aug. 22) and she did not say she was heading to Camden,” Steven Merck said. “She was just talking like she was staying in Athens and sounded very happy at the time.”
Authorities from Clarke, Camden and Broward counties are assisting in the missing persons case, along with the Kingsland Police Department.
“They tell me they are working on certain leads and they don’t want me to talk about that right now, but we still have hope, and if anyone has information please let us know. We just want to know that Ivy is safe,” Steven Merck said Thursday.
Authorities were working out arrangements with CNN for Merck’s parents to make a televised appeal to their daughter, or anyone who knows of her whereabouts, to contact them, Terrell said.
“I hope we’re correct that no foul play has occurred, but we can’t rule that out and that’s why we’re doing full-court press to locate her,” Terrell said.
“Miss Merck is 24 years old and can go about her life as she wants, but her parents just need to know that she is alive and well.”
Merck is 5-foot-1, weighs 115 pounds, with brown eyes and dark blonde to brown hair.
Anyone who has seen or had recent contact with Merck should contact the Camden County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 729-1442, or call Athens-Clarke police Sgt. Brad Collinsworth at (706) 613-3337.