TAMPA — Divers searched the pond near her Town 'N Country apartment. Search parties with dogs combed the nearby woods. Detectives passed out fliers at a shopping center where she was last seen.
And now, three weeks later, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says it appears that 57-year-old Susan Jordan bought a bus ticket under a fake name, took the Greyhound bus north, and was last seen heading to Tallahassee alone.
Jordan, whose son reported her missing after no one had seen or heard from her after May 7, has been calling herself "Debbie Kelly," and took a roundabout bus ride north through Orlando, Jacksonville and Lake City, to Tallahassee, a sheriff's news release said.
Before, authorities believed her last sightings were shopping at a U-Save grocery store on Hillsborough avenue near Hanley Road and passing the pool at her Bridgeview apartment complex at 5305 Reflections Club Drive on the afternoon of May 7.
But deputies found recently that she took a HART bus to the Greyhound station on May 4 and bought a nonrefundable ticket to Tallahassee, deputies say.
Then, "on May 7, 2009, at 7:50 p.m. Jordan again took a HART bus to the downtown Greyhound bus terminal."
At first, she appeared to be wearing a dark-colored, long wig covered with a blue scarf, the report says. Then in Orlando, she was observed going into the restroom wearing the wig and scarf, and emerging wearing a pink hat and no scarf or wig.
Her trail ends in Tallahassee on May 8. She has not been found.
When she was first reported missing, deputies made sure she was not wanted in any state, said J.D. Callaway, a sheriff's spokesman.
They also accessed her telephone records, but Callaway said he cannot disclose if she made any calls to Tallahassee before her disappearance.
If she's found, deputies hope to return her to her family. But if Jordan dropped off the grid on purpose, as it seems, authorities can't force her to come back, Callaway said.
"Obviously she's an adult, and we can't do that," he explained. "We can locate her and find out if she is safe."
Family members told deputies it is completely out of character for Jordan, who does not have any friends or relatives in Tallahassee, to leave without notifying anyone or taking her cell phone or purse.
Callaway said he heard a story about her being seen with a man before her disappearance, but detectives have been unable to confirm that.
"She appeared to be traveling alone," he said.
For now, the search has been passed on to North Florida agencies. "Detectives believe that Susan Jordan is in the Tallahassee area and notified authorities there," deputies said.