GBI called in to assist in search for missing teen

OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to assist in the search for a missing teenager in Oconee County.

Julia Mann, 17, was last seen on the night of Feb. 20 at her home.

Mann is described as being 5 feet 3 inches tall and 100 pounds.

Channel 2′s Mark Winne was in Watkinsville, where the sheriff offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Mann’s location Tuesday. The reward increased to $20,000 Friday.

And though Oconee County Sheriff Scott R. Berry said Mann could be a runaway, he is now concerned someone may have taken advantage of her or harmed her.

Berry said a deputy discovered a footprint in the mud Feb. 1, the morning after Mann was last seen by her grandfather as he went to bed. Since then, an intensive investigation has turned up not a trace, not even a digital footprint from Mann's computer.

Berry said she did take her phone, computer and a few other things but they haven't been able to trace either electronic device.

"By now, we should have had electronic hits somewhere, on the planet," Berry said. "Mark, we've got nothing. It's like an alien craft picked her up and took her to Mars."

Winne talked to Mann's mother, Terrie Clark, about how concerned she is for her daughter.

"I don't know how to live, not knowing if she's OK," Clark said. "I just have to get her home."

Clark said Mann has run away at least three times before but she was never gone for longer than 36 hours. Berry's main concern is that now, she's been gone for close to two weeks.

"She most certainly has to be in danger by now," Berry said. "She didn't have any money."

Berry said his investigators have worked hard, issuing five search warrants and two subpoenas. They've searched with cadaver dogs and by helicopter. Now, the GBI is assisting.

"I'm just really afraid that maybe she trusted the wrong person," Berry said.

Clark said Mann had been upbeat since transferring to North Oconee High School just weeks before her disappearance. She was making all As, according to her mom.

Clark said she doesn't think Mann would willingly stay out of contact this long with her 4-year-old sister.

"Right now, we've told her she's on a trip," Clark said. "I just want (Julia) to know she means the world to us."

Berry is asking anyone with information about Mann’s whereabouts to call the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.