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Search intensifies for missing mother

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A ground and air search involving police and hundreds of volunteers searched n an upscale San Antonio neighborhood Wednesday for a mother of three who has been missing more than three weeks.

Susan McFarland, 42, was last seen Nov. 25 when she was to travel to Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle to visit a friend. Court documents unsealed this week indicate Texas Rangers believe McFarland was slain.

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"She's got three children and they're probably thinking, 'When's mama coming home?'" said Fred Niday, director of the Texas EquuSearch team which is assisting in the large operation. "That's what we're about. We're here to bring her home if we can."

McFarland's husband, Richard, has declined to comment since his wife's disappearance. She is a certified public accountant employed by SBC Corp. in San Antonio. They live in a two-story, quarter-million-dollar home in the upscale Terrell Hills community.

"I just wish I would wake up and this would all be a dream and Susan would be back home," neighbor Charlene Schooling said. "But that's not going to happen."

McFarland and her husband met in high school in Webster Groves, Mo., and moved to Terrell Hills from St. Louis after SBC moved its headquarters to San Antonio in 1993. The couple's three children -- 11, 9 and 5 -- still live in the home with their father and he takes them to school each morning, going past television crews who have staked out the home.

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Searchers wearing bright orange vests began work at daybreak Wednesday, walking carefully through the wooded neighborhood which is criss-crossed by stream beds. Many of the searchers were on horseback or in four-wheel drive vehicles, and helicopters aided the search effort hovering overhead.

Rangers searched the McFarland home and garage last Friday, seizing several items, including a shotgun, several dozen shells, several computers and a shop vacuum. They told the judge who approved the search warrant that blood stains were found in various parts of the home and in her sports utility vehicle, which was found abandoned a mile from the home.

Despite the evidence no charges have been filed.

"Without a body, it is very difficult to prove a murder case," Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Bernard said. "We would have to have either a confession or an eyewitness. It's difficult to convince a jury that a murder has been committed, or prove a cause of death."

Officials did not say why the search was intensified Wednesday.

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