A local branch of a nationally-known search and rescue group will be in Massillon on Saturday to help look for a missing Perry Township woman.

The Ohio/ Midwest Chapter of Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team will span out across the Massillon-area searching for Christine Slinger, who was last seen leaving her home on Aug. 20.

Slinger, 27, got into a vehicle of a man police say is the father of her daughter.

The next day, New Philadelphia Police went to the man's apartment and found Steven T. Stafford II and the couple's 8-year-old daughter but not Slinger.

Stafford was later questioned by police and was released with the understanding that he would submit to a polygraph test the next day. When he did show up for the test, officials went to his apartment and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Dave Rader, director of the local chapter of EquuSearch said the group was contacted by Slinger's family, who is desperate to find her.

Rader said the group will cover a "big chunk of area" in and around Massillon, especially the more rural and remote places where a body could be concealed, he said.

He hopes to cover roughly 50 square miles. Rader said the search area is determine by where the missing person was last scene and based on other information, searchers will fan out from there.

Attemps to reach Slinger's family Tuesday and Wednesday were not successful.

A group of about eight volunteers from the Cincinnati-based group will join volunteers on a foot and ATV search, Rader said. The family of Fred Paar, who was recently found dead in Kentucky, has been instrumental in helping to organize the search, he said.

The group utilizes a number of items to conduct their searches including drones, horses and sonar units to check waterways, he said.

"We got a lot of toys in our toybox," he said. "But we are looking to use ATVS and foot searchers (on Saturday) to cover more ground."

Searchers will be very thorough while combing the area to not miss anything, Rader said.

"Since I've been involved I have never missed one that has been in my search zone," he said.

Rader has been involved in a number of high profile searches, including the hunt for Caylee Anthony. The group also helped search for Jessie Davis.

Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. in the gym of the Massillon YMCA, 131 Tremont Ave. SE. Volunteers must be 18 and have a valid identification and should dress for the weather.

Rader anticipates the search taking all day and, if needed, the group will return.

Nothing new

Stark County Sheriff's Office Inspector William Jones said the investigation is at a standstill and he is hopeful results from evidence collected at both Slinger's and Stafford's homes will lead investigators in a new direction.

Investigators, he said, have run down any lead they had from their conversation with Stafford. His stories had some inconsistencies, authorities said, and his credibility is in question because of his actions after talking with authorities.

"We've followed up on everything he said. We searched all the areas he said they were and checked surveillance cameras," Jones said. "But was what he was telling us even true?"

Investigators are looking at cellphone records. The investigation has been hindered by the difficulty of obtaining information from Stafford's phone, Jones said.

They know that Stafford used his phone the night Slinger went missing, including sending texts, but there is nothing to indicate what happened to Slinger, he said.

Phone records and GPS coordinates are not reliable since Stafford was using random public WiFi spots, Jones said.

Officials have received a number of tips, all of which they have followed. They have been able to confirm some of Stafford's story.

The couple's daughter, Stafford's family and Slinger's family also have been interviewed.

Jones said there is no indication that this is anything more than a missing person's case but Slinger's family believes Slinger is in trouble. Slinger's family believes Stafford was involved in Slinger's disappearance somehow and Jones agrees.

"There's no doubt he had the information we need," Jones said. "But now we have nothing."

Amy Knapp is a reporter at The Independent in Massillon.