'She's the girl next door:' Volunteers and family search for missing Holly Ellsworth-Clark

Hopes of finding Holly Ellsworth-Clark stay alive as hundreds of people surveyed streets in Hamilton Wednesday evening to find the missing 27-year-old.

'Day one was panic and today, panic ... it is the same, it hasn't changed, we want her home.'

Ron Monaghan, 63, is one of the hundreds of local volunteers who surveyed the streets in Hamilton looking for Holly Ellsworth-Clark on Wednesday. She's been missing since Jan. 11. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hundreds of people filled the inside of the Eurcharist Church on Victoria Avenue North Wednesday evening, all looking for one person — Holly Ellsworth-Clark. 

"The goal is to get her back ... I can't be clearer about that," Elle McFearsin, one of the leaders of the search effort, said to the crowd at about 4 p.m.

"She's the girl next door ... she's the type of girl you would let babysit your children."

McFearsin flew in from Calgary to help organize the volunteer foot soldiers walking up and down the streets to find one of her closest friends, who has been missing since Jan. 11.

She and a handful of family friends sat at tables in the church, handing sheets to locals ready to trek around town and look for Ellsworth-Clark.

"We have developed a grid of Hamilton and are sending out team leads to the zones and sending out the kind volunteers to help scour for Holly," she told CBC News.

Elle McFearsin, flew in from Calgary to help find Holly Ellsworth-Clark, one of her closest friends. She has coordinated many of the searches and has been in close contact with police. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

McFearsin told the crowd to write down anything they saw, including open garage doors and surveillance cameras, so teams could review those areas afterwards.

She said another wave of volunteers would look at 6 p.m., despite being past sunset.

Ellsworth-Clark's sister and brother — Kate and Caleb — silently sat in the church hall as they and members of their crew waited for tips to pour in via social media and phone calls.

The support from the public, Kate says, has been overwhelming.

"It's been the only good part of this experience," she told CBC News.

Volunteers ready to hit the sidewalk flowed out the old church doors with posters of Hollly before huddling into groups and splitting off to search.

Family and close friends of Holly Ellsworth-Clark hand out sheets to help locals in Hamilton walk the streets looking for the missing 27-year-old. She hasn't been seen since Jan. 11. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Two members of the Canadian Protection Services also offered protection and support for any walkers feeling unsafe, their ambulances parked outside of the church.

Dave Clark, Ellsworth-Clark's father, briefly entered the building after the crowd left, to check on things and speak with McFearsin.

Clark tries to stay optimistic, but says they're still "in the dark."

"We still don't really know what we're searching for," he told CBC News.

Dave Clark isn't losing hope, especially after hundreds of volunteers help search for his missing daughter, Holly Ellsworth-Clark — but he does say he still feels like he doesn't know what he's looking for. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton police say they are investigating her disappearance as a missing persons case.

"We have no information at this time to suggest there is anything criminal in nature related to her disappearance … she left her residence and she was distraught and in crisis," Const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News.

Ross Albanese and Amanda Aitchison said they learned about Ellsworth-Clark's disappearance three hours before showing up.

They walked from Barton Street East and Emerald Street North, circling the area of Cannon Street East and Victoria Avenue North before returning to the start point and searching spots near the intersection.

"You tell yourself it could be one of your family members and you just hope you can find her," Aitchison said before spotting a surveillance camera and quickly jotting it down.

Ross Albanese and Amanda Aitchison only learned of Holly Ellsworth-Clark's disappearance hours before they started searching for her. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Ron Monaghan, 63, has lived beside the church for years. He wasn't a part of any search group, but took a flyer and decided to go rogue, driving around town looking for Ellsworth-Clark.

"It's people like us in the community, step by step, trying to see if we can figure out what's going on," he said.

If Ellsworth-Clark isn't found today, McFearsin said it will still feel like square one.

"Day one was panic and today, panic. It is the same, it hasn't changed, we want her home," she said.

Holly Ellsworth-Clark, 27, has been missing since Jan. 11. (Submitted by Kirsten Toth)

Ellsworth-Clark, 27, is 6'1 and 200 pounds. She's taller than most girls, with a strong, athletic build. 

She moved to Hamilton to pursue a music career and was a chamption amateur wrestler in Calgary.

She was last seen on Jan. 11 near Sanford Avenue North and Cannon Street, wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black pants, black boots possibly with a black backpack — not adequately dressed for current weather conditions.

Investigators have asked anyone with surveillance cameras in that area to review any footage between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Jan. 11.

All tips can be directed to police at 905-546-4925.

The Clark family is also accepting tips at bringhollyhome2020@gmail.com.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.