New tip could lead to remains of woman missing more than 20 years

Sherri Vanessa Holland

Sherri Vanessa Holland

It’s been 22 years since Sherri Vanessa Holland was last seen hopping into her 1985 BMW at her Flagler Beach, Fla., vacation home with her two dogs, Gracie and Bear.

At the time, she was headed to Atlanta after getting the call she’d been “waiting for,” authorities said. But she never made it.

An anonymous tip has reinvigorated the search for Holland, prompting the Morrow Police Department to search an undisclosed wooded area for the woman’s remains Wednesday, police Chief James Callaway said in an exclusive interview with Channel 2 Action News.

The GBI, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and four cadaver dogs from South Carolina will also join the search.

Holland, 34, disappeared Aug. 16, 1996. Her car, which had a flat tire, was found a week later on I-75 North just south of the Morrow exit. A week after that, her dogs were found at a Clayton County apartment complex.

“It’s our hope and it’s my personal prayer that we do find Sherri Holland out there in the woods (Wednesday) to bring some closure to (her) family,” Callaway said.

At the time, authorities were flooded with at least 100 tips that went nowhere.

But the latest information — an electronic tip Callaway said he personally vetted — indicated Holland’s personal items were found. Callaway confirmed foul play is suspected.

MORE: Read about Georgia's cold cases

Scant details were offered by authorities during an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a year after Holland’s disappearance. Her telephone records were collected by the GBI, but details were not released.

Authorities searched her Peachtree Battle Avenue home but never said what they found. And police interviews didn’t reveal a possible motive.

During Tuesday’s interview with Channel 2, Callaway revealed some details about the contents of Holland’s car — a loaded gun, $2,400 and a purse. Oddly, no wallet or suitcase were found in the car.

“It’s like this person just vanished off the face of the planet,” he said.

At the time, Terri Holland thought her twin sister was kidnapped after a possible sighting by a tipster. According to the tip, a woman fitting Sherri Holland’s description was seen with a man entering a mid-1980s dented and faded blue Oldsmobile the night of the disappearance, The AJC previously reported.

RELATED: The GBI's Missing Persons case files

A driver saw the two leaving a QuikTrip on Upper Riverdale Road, which is less than three miles from the Morrow exit where Holland’s car was found.

But in the years since, there’s been no concrete leads.

Holland also ran an escort business, but officials have not said if that was connected to her disappearance. Regardless of “her profession, it’s incumbent upon us as a law enforcement agency to seek justice,” Callaway said.

Another woman named Sherri Holland was murdered in Georgia in 2001. Her killer, Steven Spears, was executed in 2016.

— The AJC’s archives were used to report this story.

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