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Two Moms Vanish in Southern Indiana

Missing Mothers Joelle Lockwood & Kristy Kelley: Related Disappearances?
Kristy Kelley (left) and Joelle Lockwood
Courtesy Help Find Kristy; Courtesy Help Find Joelle

08/26/2014 AT 05:55 PM EDT

Kristy Kelley was enjoying a leisurely evening out on Aug. 15, chatting with friends at the local VFW bar in Boonville, Indiana. Around 1:30 a.m., the 27-year-old mother of two got in her Silver 2003 Nissan Xterra and headed for home, seemingly unaware that she had left her cell phone at the bar.

It was the last time anyone saw the 5'5", 135-lb. woman. Somewhere between the bar and her parents' house – a distance of less than two miles – Kelley disappeared.

The next morning, concerned relatives contacted police and reported Kelley missing.

"There has been no trace of her, her car or her clothing," Kelley's great-uncle, Monte Fetter, tells PEOPLE. "She's not the type to just disappear, so we're very worried about her."

The family has set up a Facebook page and organized several searches to find Kelley.

"She has two young children," says Fetter. "She has a job. She has a life that she wouldn't just walk away from."

Meanwhile, 18 miles away in Evansville, Indiana, a similar situation played out just five weeks earlier. Joelle Lockwood, a 30-year-old mother of two, walked out of a friend's house on July 9 and vanished into the night.

"She left the house on foot," says Sgt. Jason Cullum of the Evansville Police Department. "And then, no one saw her again."

Friends and family have organized several searches for Lockwood, who was last seen in jean shorts, a tank top and pink Nikes. She has two tattoos: a tribal design in the middle of her neck and a Playboy bunny on her right shoulder.

Lockwood's family, too, has set up a Facebook page to gather tips.

More Than a Coincidence?

Like Kelley, Lockwood is a single mom of two children. She's young and petite, with brown hair.

"On the surface, there are a lot of similarities," says Sgt. Cullum. "They're single white mothers who disappeared 18 miles apart, a month apart. However, we see a lot of things that are different. One was at a private residence, the other at a bar. They don't seem to have any mutual acquaintances. They lived different lifestyles. So there are many things that are strikingly different. It could be just a coincidence."

Still, investigators at the Evansville Police Department are working with the Warrick County authorities handling the Kelley case. "We are in contact every day," says Cullum. "You never know if we'll find one piece of information that matches each case. So far, that hasn't happened, and I don't expect it will, but we want to conduct a thorough investigation to bring both women home."

Whether or not they are connected, the disappearances have left two families – and an entire community – reeling. "We want answers," says Fetter. "We need to know what happened to Kristy."

Lockwood's mother echoes that sentiment. "She's faced a lot of different challenges in her life," Candace Lockwood told ABC News of her daughter. "We're very worried for her right now."

Authorities caution well-meaning searchers to focus their energy in the right direction. "We don't want people looking for a bogeyman who took two women," says Sgt. Cullum. "What we want is for everyone to have their eyes open for these two women. Everybody needs to be looking for them both so we can bring them back home."

Anyone with information about Kelley is asked to contact the Warrick County Sheriff's Department at (812) 897-6180. Anyone who has seen Lockwood or has information about her disappearance is asked to contact the Evansville Police Department at (812) 436-7979.

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