Ransom Bid for Missing California College Student Was a Hoax, Police Say: 'Definitely No Connection'
Alycia Yeoman, 20, was last spotted in Yuba City on March 30
Authorities in California have revealed a twist in the ongoing search for a California college student last seen March 30, PEOPLE confirms.
In the days after Alycia “Aly” Yeoman went missing, her mother received text messages claiming the 20-year-old Yuba College student had been kidnapped and demanding a ransom for her return.
On Friday law enforcement tracked down the person who allegedly sent those messages, and determined the individual has no knowledge about the disappearance.
“It’s tragic,” Sutter County, California, Undersheriff Jeff Pierce tells PEOPLE. “There is definitely no connection. It was basically someone just trying to take some opportunity of a situation.”
“The email on the text trying to get money out of the family, that was tracked down and the person is already being dealt with,” he says. “It could result in more charges further on.”
He did not identify the individual.
Meanwhile Yeoman’s family issued its first public statement since reporting Yeoman missing on April 1 after she failed to show up for work two days in a row.
“We firmly believe in our hearts that Aly is alive and needs our help,” family members said in a statement read at a news conference Friday by Gridley-Biggs Police Chief Dean Price. “Please, please bring her home.”
The statement continued: “Aly, if you are hearing this, we have come all across the country. We love you and are desperately doing everything we can to bring you home safely.”
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Initial reports said Yeoman, from Gridley, California, was leaving the Yuba City home of a male friend when she was last spotted alone behind the wheel of her green 1998 Toyota Tacoma pickup about 11 p.m. March 30.
However, authorities have since revised their timeline, and now say that she was last seen at 7:51 p.m. on her way to the male fiend’s home, in her car.
“Shortly thereafter, communication with (Yeoman) ceased, by both personal contact and via cell phone communications,” Pierce said.
Four days later police recovered the truck in an orchard in Live Oak, between Yuba City and Gridley, where farm workers who reported the vehicle said it had not moved for several days.
Surveillance video provided by a local homeowner shows the truck just before 11 p.m. as it drives around a gate and then on top of a levee along the orchard, reports KCRA.
Authorities who recovered the truck said the vehicle apparently drove down the levee outside the range of the surveillance video, and then became stuck in the mud where it was found.
A single set of footprints trailed away from the vehicle. Yeoman’s cell phone was located nearby.
Family members have launched a GoFundMe page with a $10,000 goal to boost the reward money offered by the FBI in the case. “We ask that you donate whatever possible so that we can bring Aly home safe!,” it states.
Police describe the missing woman as 5-feet-4-inches tall, with brown-blonde hair, braces, a nose ring and a small mole near her left eye.
Anyone with information about Yeoman’s whereabouts is asked to call police at 530-846-5670.