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Auburndale woman last seen in May now considered endangered

As the search efforts come up empty, police now consider Tonya Whipp as an endangered person. A $4,000 cash reward is being offered for information.

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — An Auburndale woman who has been missing for two months is now considered to be endangered, according to Heartland Crime Stoppers and the Auburndale Police Department.

Tonya Whipp, 38, has been missing since May. Her family says May 26 was the last time they were in contact with her. In late June, Auburndale police officially started investigating Whipp's disappearance as a missing person case

Crimestoppers is now offering a $3,000 cash reward for information, and an anonymous donor is offering an additional $1,000 cash reward.

On the same day Whipp's case was upgraded to a "missing and endangered person," her family and friends held a candlelight vigil at Lake Blue Park in Winter Haven to pray for her safe return home. 

"We're going to light our candles for her and keep our hope alive the best we can," said her sister, Donna Martin. 

Whipp's sisters say it's unlike her to disappear without notice, and they suspect something is seriously wrong. 

"If you say you care about my sister, if you know something, please help us find her," Jenny Shelton, who also is one of Whipp's sisters, said. 

With each passing day, her sisters say they're becoming more restless. 

"The last month has been extremely difficult, and the days are getting more difficult. It's hard to think that we're looking for our sister," Martin said. "Please give us something so that we can get her back and we can rest." 

Since the investigation started, search warrants have been executed and volunteers have spent time looking for the missing 38-year-old. Most recently, volunteers in Polk County resumed the search for Whipp on Sunday at Lake Blue. 

They brought their boats with various search-related equipment, including a drone to help look in and around the Lake Blue area. They are focused on dragging the bottom of the lake after law enforcement already used sonar equipment to inspect the lake.

Anyone with information can contact Det. Wall or Det. Seymour at 863-965-5555 or by email at cwall@auburndalefl.com (or kseymour@auburndalefl.com).

To remain anonymous and be eligible for the cash reward, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477 or online here.

Previous coverage from 10 Tampa Bay contributed to this report.

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