Search for missing Winston-Salem mother intensifies

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The search for a missing Winston-Salem mother is intensifying, as North Carolina troopers are looking for her from the air and the Winston-Salem Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division has assumed the case.

Officers say 30-year-old Kristen Leigh McNeal was last seen at her home in Winter Hue Street at 1 p.m. on Feb. 17.

“No one seems to know where she went,” said McNeal’s mother, Barbara Smith.

McNeal’s friends and family say she was struggling with addiction.

“But that didn’t make her less of a person,” Smith said.

However, they emphasize that her sons were “her life.” They are ages 9 and 12.

“I don’t think they quite understand right now how serious it is,” Smith said, of her grandsons.

Police say McNeal’s destination is unknown but believe she may be in the Kernersville area.

Troopers scoured the area on Gumtree Road, near the Winston-Salem/Wallburg/Kernersville area for more than an hour on Tuesday.

“It makes me feel better that they’re out there looking for her,” Smith said. “On the other hand, I’m afraid of what they might find.”

Investigators are also searching for McNeal’s car, which is a 1989 white Oldsmobile with North Carolina plate DCN-1576.

“I know something’s not right,” Smith said. “Something’s very wrong.”

Smith admitted that her hope is wearing thin as the days go on.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” she said. “Anything like this.”

Smith added that she is offering a $5,000 reward for information that helps locate her daughter.

“I know that there’s somebody out there that knows what happened to her and I just hope we’re able to find them,” she said. “And find her.”

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