Search for teacher expands

Authorities and local residents in a rural Montana oil town fanned out Tuesday in search of a high school teacher who disappeared while jogging over the weekend.

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They are hoping to find some sign of Sherry Arnold, 43, before snow and rain and feezing cold move in later in the day.

FBI agents have joined the search for Arnold, a mother and algebra teacher who went missing during her routine early morning jog on Saturday in Sidney. More than 150 people helped look for any signs of Arnold on Monday, but all that’s been found so far is a lone running shoe in a roadside ditch.

“It’s been tough having known the family for awhile, something like this just doesn’t happen here,” said John Seitz, who is leading one of four groups searching for clues.

On Monday, search crews broadened their grid in Richland County walking fields, searching trailer parks, ditches and canals. They found other items of clothing, but none — apart from the shoe — have been identified as belonging to Arnold.

No solid evidence has emerged to indicate that she was kidnapped, authorities said.

“It’s just been grueling,” said Arnold’s father, Ron Whited, who runs a ranch outside of Sidney. “When you can’t find someone and you do find a shoe and you know that’s where she was running, something obviously wasn’t right. I can tell you I would never believe I would be looking for my daughter.”

Sherry and her husband, Gary Arnold, had five children from previous marriages, including two still living at home and attending Sidney High School, Whited said. Colleagues described her as a devoted teacher.

Her disappearance comes amid a lot of change in the town of more than 6,000. A boom in the nearby Bakken oil fields of eastern Montana and western North Dakota has brought in newcomers, up more than 1,000 from several years ago.

“It’s not the little town Montana anymore. Stuff like that isn’t supposed to happen here,” Seitz said.

© 2012

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