By Erica Morse
Publisher, Victims News Online
Updated 3:00pm CST, December 3rd, 2012
As officials in Lake County, IN, await positive identification of human remains found yesterday, the family of another missing woman from the same county is pleading for the public’s help in locating her.
Holly Amber Womack-Elischer disappeared on October 4th, from Gary, IN. Her mother, Darlene Strickland, was the last known person to have spoken with her, via phone that morning.
From her home in Georgia, Strickland told Victims News Online she had a brief conversation with her daughter around 9:30am on the morning of October 4th, 2012. Her daughter indicated she had recently been turned away from a womens’ shelter, and had spent the previous evening sleeping in a gazebo, located in downtown Gary. During that call, Holly told her mother she was going somewhere to charge her cell phone, but all calls made to that phone have since gone straight to voice mail.
It all began on the evening of October 2nd, when Strickland received a phone call from her daughter’s ex-husband, Paul Elischer, Jr. Strickland indicated the two were at his residence in Gary, IN, and were in the midst of an argument. Strickland then called local authorities, who responded to Elischer’s home. Holly was taken out of the home by police, and spent the evening in the lobby of the Gary Police Department. The following day, arrangements were made for her to be dropped off at a local shelter for battered women. However, according to her family, Holly was dropped off at the entrance to the wrong shelter on October 3rd — but not escorted inside — and she later told her mother via phone she had been turned away at the front door due to overcrowding.
Making this case even more difficult is the amount of inaccurate information which has been reported about the missing woman. Although she was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), her name was originally entered incorrectly, showing as “Womax,” instead of “Womack.” When the mistake was corrected, her married name of Elischer was then entered, even though many of the “missing” posters circulating for the woman show the name of Womack. Additionally, due to the earlier NamUS error, several media reports also have the woman’s last name spelled incorrectly.
It is a series of mistakes which have slowed down the online efforts for the missing woman, as inaccuracies such as this sometimes cause volunteers and advocates to hesitate or become suspicious of the case’s validity. One advocate from Northwest Indiana told Victims News Online she was “slightly aware” of a missing woman from Gary, but the confusion regarding her name and other identifying details (such as a secondary error in reporting of height, eye color and hair color) was not only confusing, but difficult to find accurate details so her team could offer assistance.
Mark Archer, President of Northeast Indiana Search & Rescue, Inc., is heading up the search for Holly, along with his team. Archer told Victims News Online that authorities have been “slow to react” in this case, and Holly’s mother agrees. Archer and his team is assisting the family in clarifying the earlier-reported errors, along with enhancing online distribution of her case, hoping social media efforts will clear up the confusion.
“The mistakes just snowballed,” said Darlene Strickland. “One report was wrong, and they kept going from there. We need to clear up these details so people know what she looks like.”
Strickland also wants volunteers to know that, although one photograph is being distributed of her daughter wearing eyeglasses, she no longer has access to them. “She broke them months ago, and does not have them with her,” she said.
Holly Amber Womack-Elischer is 30 years old, with long brown hair and blue eyes, weighing approximately 300 pounds. Her last known location was in the area of 4th and Connecticut Streets, in downtown Gary, IN. She does not drive, so her preferred method of getting around is either walking or by bus. Holly does suffer from BiPolar disorder, and is currently without her medications. Anyone with information as to Holly Womack-Elischer’s whereabouts is asked to contact Lieutenant Lawrence Wright of the Gary, IN, Police Department, at (219) 881-4736.