She had just left a party on Bobarn Road and was intoxicated, said Crystal Johns, 28, a friend who was with her. Johns and Sharpless argued over who should drive, as both had been drinking. Sharpless told Johns to get out of the car and then drove off, Johns said.
"I thought she'd come back and pick me up," Johns said yesterday. Sharpless didn't answer her cell phone when Johns called the night of Aug. 23. Johns reported her missing the next night at 9 when she found out Sharpless had not come home.
Volunteers from Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit firm that helps families search for missing persons, borrowed a boat from a neighbor and used sonar equipment Thursday to look for vehicles in the water, said Tim Miller, director and founder of the organization.
At night, the boat launch and river can look like a road leading downhill, Miller said.
Divers entered the water before 9 a.m. yesterday and worked until noon with a heavy-duty tow truck, trying to pull a car out of the water.
The car closest to the boat launch, in water 25 feet deep, was stuck in mud, Higgins said. Police plan to return next week with divers and stronger lifting equipment to remove the cars, some of which Higgins thinks were stolen.
"They look like they've been there awhile," he said, adding that the area is not uncommonly used as a dumping site.
About the time she was last seen, Sharpless sent a text message to her 12-year-old daughter saying she would be home soon. No further activity has been detected on her phone or credit cards, police said.
Sharpless' older sister, Candy, 32, said she was relieved but disappointed that police found no answers yesterday.
"I'm going to be disappointed no matter how the cake is cut," she said.
Sharpless' friends and family say they'll keep searching. Miller went back on the river yesterday to see whether sonar turned up any other items worth investigating.
"We got three, or possibly four, more [cars] out there," Miller said. He told law enforcement where the new finds were.
Miller plans to go back to Texas today.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Sharpless or her car is asked to call Lower Merion detectives at 610-649-1000 or West Brandywine police at 610-380-8201.
Contact staff writer Joelle Farrell at 610-313-8207 or email@example.com.