State, federal officials join search for missing woman


Published: Saturday, January 10, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2004 at 11:01 p.m.
Federal and state officials joined the search Friday for a Bradford County woman who was last seen on Sunday, the day before her home was destroyed by fire.
Sandra Mason Gann, 48, was last seen by a family friend who was visiting Gann and her husband, Dwayne Edward Gann, 44, at the couple's mobile home about four miles north of Starke.
After Sandra Gann was reported missing Tuesday afternoon by her daughter, Dwayne Gann told investigators that Sandra got a ride to work Monday morning from someone he did not know. Bradford County Sheriff Bob Milner said family members and close friends have repeatedly told investigators that it was extremely unusual for Sandra Gann not to be in touch with them for more than a day or so.
Adding to the concern for Sandra Gann's safety was a Monday night fire that destroyed the mobile home where she had been living with her husband of about six months. Although a law enforcement investigator from the State Fire Marshal's office was at the scene shortly after the fire was put out, no one had yet reported Sandra Gann missing.
"We had someone from the Fire Marshal's office back out here (on Friday) and they used a cadaver dog from the Marion County Sheriff's (Office) to go back through the residence and around the wooded area immediately adjacent to the home," Milner said. "We also had the Florida Department of Law Enforcement bring their crime lab van, and U.S. Customs flew over the wooded area adjacent to the mobile home."
Milner said the best news following Friday's search efforts was that nothing was found.
"Right now we still don't have anything and that could be good news," Milner said. "It's not probable that she left for this long without telling anyone, but it is possible and so we will continue looking."
Dwayne Gann and his sister, Deborah Sue Starling, 46, have both been identified as "persons of interest" to investigators working on the case. Starling lived next door to the couple and her home was one of the places state crime lab technicians went through on Friday. The siblings were arrested on unrelated charges this week and have been questioned several times about Sandra Gann's disappearance.
Starling is being held on two counts of failing to appear in court on unrelated cases and since being picked up this week has been charged with committing at least one burglary.
Dwayne Gann was arrested on an outstanding Clay County warrant for failing to pay child support.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

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