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Two Columbia residents reported missing

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 | 10:12 p.m. CDT; updated 9:34 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Friends of Jennifer Topper, 22, and Zachery Howard, 23, prepared this flier asking for help in finding the missing couple. Topper last spoke to friends July 26 and Howard last spoke to family on Friday, according to a news release from the Columbia Police Department.

COLUMBIA — A couple from Columbia were reported missing by a friend Monday, but friends and family hadn't heard from them for days prior.

Jennifer Topper, 22, and Zachery Howard, 23, were reported missing by Kirstie Squires and Nicole Seamon after not hearing from Topper in more than a week.

Topper last spoke to friends July 26 and Howard last spoke to family on Friday, according to a news release from the Columbia Police Department.

The two had been dating for a couple of years and had discussed moving to Branson, Squires said.

Columbia police said it is believed the couple were traveling to Branson to stay with one of Howard's relatives, but they never arrived.

Topper's friends said they are in disbelief that she would leave town without notifying them. Squires said she didn't know Topper was moving to Branson that soon, and she's not sure why she hasn't heard from her.

"There's a lot of possibilities and I don't want to exclude any," Squires said.

She and several of Topper's friends have organized a search and received an outcry of support, especially on Facebook.

They have been handing out hundreds of missing person fliers on the streets of downtown Columbia and are planning to expand their operation.

They have posted a missing persons flier on Facebook, and are relying on others sharing it to help spread the word. Squires said the friends are also planning a search party if Topper is not found by Monday.

"I'm trying to give everyone a chance to help," she said.

Sgt. Jill Schlude of the Columbia Police Department said an investigator has been assigned and is following up with this case. She said there is no reason to suspect foul play at this time.

Toppers is 5 feet 7 inches tall, 120 pounds with green eyes and brown hair. Howard is 6 feet tall, 180 pounds with green eyes and brown hair. Topper drives a silver/gray Geo Prism with the license plate number WG3-E9N.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Columbia Police Department at 874-7652 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 875-8477.

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.


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