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Midstate Mysteries: The disappearance of Kortne Stouffer - abc27 WHTM

Midstate Mysteries: The disappearance of Kortne Stouffer

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PALMYRA, Pa. (WHTM) -

It's been more than 200 days since Kortne Stouffer vanished; more than 200 sleepless nights and 200 painful mornings for those who love her.

"I keep hope every day," her father, Scott Stouffer, said. "And I try not to go to the other side."

VOLATILE NIGHT:

On a night in late July, Kortne hosted a get-together at her apartment on West Main Street in Palmyra. Police were called to the apartment and said they discovered underage drinking. Kortne's boyfriend was taken into custody for a probation violation, police said.

From there, Kortne went partying with friends in downtown Harrisburg, where she was involved in an altercation inside the now-closed Hardware Bar.

She returned to her apartment early the next morning with a male friend. There was another argument with neighbors and police were ultimately called to her home two more times, according to investigators.

"Kortne was just a girl who was making her way through her early 20's," Scott Stouffer said. "She was just being a kid and finding out through her own lessons."

When her friend woke up the next morning, he said Kortne was gone.

VANISHED:

Kortne's purse, cell phone, keys and wallet were all still inside her apartment. But it's what investigators didn't find that also puzzled them. There was no note, no blood and no sign of a struggle.

"We really had to start with zero information other than we know she's not here and try to work out in every possible direction and try to figure out what happened," Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold said.

WAS ENOUGH DONE?

Kortne's father is critical of the investigation. He believes Palmyra police should have done more to separate his daughter from her neighbors that night. He also believes they didn't act quickly enough when they learned she was missing.

"I'm critical because it's my daughter and we don't have her and they have no idea where she could be, dead or alive," Scott Stouffer said.

Arnold said he understands why Scott Stouffer is critical of the investigation and said if his child was missing, he would probably feel the same way. But he does not believe mistakes were made.

"We've dedicated substantial resources and effort to finding her from the moment we realized she was missing," Arnold said.

But what's more, Stouffer told abc27 News that at times investigators have focused their attention on him as a suspect.

"It makes no sense," he said. "And that's what it goes back to: common sense. And I think they (the police) could use their common sense a little bit better and focus on the right people in the right directions with obvious reasons someone would want to hurt my daughter."

And apparently there were reasons.

DANGEROUS CIRCUMSTANCES?

Arnold said the fight at the Hardware Bar was apparently because Kortne owed someone money.

Even Scott admits in a new interview with abc27 that he's heard his daughter was mixed up in some potentially dangerous circumstances.

He said her apartment was burglarized twice leading up to her disappearance. He said in one of those cases, Kortne alerted Palmyra police.

Arnold admits that investigators have spent time focusing on those break-ins, calling them "suspicious."

They've also spent time looking into a trip Kortne took to Sacramento, California earlier in the summer. Was it related to her disappearance? Arnold said it can't be ruled out.

That unusual trip is something Scott Stouffer would like to learn more about.

"I'm curious if somebody actually tracked down the location of where she went," he said. "I'd like to talk to that person."

CIRCLE OF DISTRUST:

Scott Stouffer said repeatedly that he does not trust Kortne's circle of friends.

"There's not a moment of the day that it leaves you," he said of his daughter's disappearance. "Not a moment. And I just wish they (her friends) would do the right thing."

He believes that at least one of the people she was with the night she disappeared is withholding something from investigators.

"I just don't believe for one second that that many people can be involved with my daughter that night in such a short period of time and have no information and have no idea what happened to her," Stouffer said.

BOGUS TIPS:

Since Kortne's disappearance, abc27 has also learned that investigators received numerous tips they believe were designed simply to waste their time. Arnold cited a tip that Kortne was being held in a cage along the Swatara Creek as an example.

In each case, time was wasted.

"We do get some who are people who perhaps are finding some deranged sense of pleasure from sending us down the wrong path for some reason," Arnold said.

"It infuriates me," Stouffer said of the bogus tips. "But I have to try to control that because I have to stay on track. I have to stay focused."

NUMBER ONE THEORY?

The D.A. said investigators do have several working theories about what happened to Kortne Stouffer. He admits their number one theory is that she was kidnapped, although he declined to say why.

So where is Kortne Stouffer? And is she still alive?

"From a statistical standpoint, I can't deny that it's probably not as likely as we would hope, but I don't think anyone's likely to give up hope," Arnold said.

Scott Stouffer is still hopeful. But at the same time, he said is prepared for the worst.

"I try not to go to the other side," he said. "But if we have to at some point in time, we're a strong family. We will get through it."

HOW TO HELP:

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Kortne Stouffer is asked to call 717-838-8189. They can also email tips to Kortneinfo@gmail.com.

A reward for information is now up to $42,000.

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