TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Where is Brandi? That's the lingering question a family in Tifton has asked for a year. The teenager disappeared last July.
"To me she was an angel," said Shellie Auchtung as she placed a candle in the shape of an angel down Tuesday evening.
The flicker of a flame is a mother's attempt to bring light to a dark situation. It's one that started last July 7th. "I'm not real superstitious but I had a bad dream that night and I woke up crying. I just felt something bad had happened to my child," said Auchtung.
Since then she's been trying to wake up. "I've been hunting her ever since," said Auchtung. Shellie Auchtung's then 17-year-old daughter Brandi Cole was last seen getting into a vehicle with 5 other people in South Tifton.
"I know that something bad has happened to my baby," said Auchtung.
Auchtung understands her daughter ran with a bad crowd in the past but she knows there's more to her disappearance. Rumors that she hears around town don't help the situation. "Word on the streets is that she's supposed to be buried around a pond in a shallow grave somewhere down Lower Brookfield Road between here and Brookfield," said Auchtung while wiping tears.
Such a shocking possibility had her searching ponds by herself in the area. "Until I know where she is, I can't let it go," said Auchtung.
Now a year later, family and friends joined together for a candlelight vigil in Tifton. "I hope it'll bring somebody to tell something, somebody that knows something who will let others know," said Brandi's grandmother Sue Ann Hamrick.
Auchtung holds extra motivation for people to come forward in her arms--Brandi's 3-year-old daughter Carmen. "I didn't know what to say to her. I still don't know what to say. All I can tell her is she'll be home soon," said Auchtung.
She's starting to see her daughter in her granddaughter. "If she had green eyes, she would be her," said Auchtung with a kiss to Carmen's forehead.
Together the two generations lit another candle. "Put it by your Mama honey. Put it right there," said Auchtung to Carmen. They hope the flames will bring the missing generation now pictured in a frame back home soon.
Auchtung is hoping to get a search team together soon complete with a cadaver dog to go searching in those areas. She's really hoping anyone with information will come forward. If you know anything about her disappearance, you should call Tifton Police or The Tift County Sheriff's Department.