CENTERVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro police say "recent information" in the Tabitha Tuders case led to detectives searching a rural part of Hickman County.
MNPD officials confirmed the update on Wednesday morning, saying cold case detectives, along with Urban Search and Rescue officers and FBI agents were on scene.
Police spokesperson Don Aaron said the police department has pursued numerous leads in the 17 years since Tuders' disappearance. Aaron said a theory that she may have been on the property in 2003 led to today's search.
A law enforcement team, including MNPD Cold Case-Homicide detectives, Urban Search & Rescue officers & FBI agents, is in rural Hickman County today looking for evidence in the 2003 disappearance of 13-year-Old Tabitha Tuders. Recent information led investigators to Hickman County pic.twitter.com/2auIQYrLkN— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) August 12, 2020
Police described the area as a six-acre, rugged plot of land with a small, dilapidated house on it. The terrain was described as mostly wooded.
Sgt. Charles Rutzky said the search was based on "old and new information." He said information has been developed as to how Tuders possibly got to the property, but that's something they're still investigating.
Rutzky said they're looking for any evidence to support the theory that she's been in the area. He said they'll be out there "as long as it takes."
In response to Wednesday's search, the Tuders family released the following statement:
"Every day, we pray for answers in Tabitha's case. Today is no different. We appreciate the work law enforcement agencies are doing to try to find her after 17 long years. As we wait patiently to learn more, we ask that you give our family privacy at this time. We have never given up hope that we will find Tabitha."
Anyone in the area who remembers anything suspicious from that time should call Metro police.
Watch the full briefing below:
"This has been a case that has spanned the whole country," said Rutzky. "We've looked long and far, and we'll continue to look wherever it takes us."
Tuders was 13 when she vanished in April of 2003. She was on her way to catch the bus near her family's home on Lillian Street in Nashville. She hasn't been seen since. The case remains one of the area's biggest unsolved mysteries.
Ariel footage from Sky 5 shows law enforcement on the scene:
Neighbors who live near the search area were surprised by the activity, having followed the Tuders case for years.
"Oh yeah, I mean you can’t forget her face, we’ve seen it for years," said Eric Palen, who lives by the search area.
"I was surprised, I never thought anything about her would be out here, especially next door like that," Palen said.
Metro Police say their search will continue through Thursday.
"Who knows what they’ll find?" Palen said. "She may not be the only thing they find out there, who knows?"