CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police looking for a Charlotte woman who disappeared in December have been given what could be a key lead, however the witness who saw something will not come forward to verify the information.

Janet Simpson is a mortgage banker who vanished Dec. 5, 2010 after having breakfast at the Liberty East Restaurant on East Independence Boulevard in Charlotte.

Her SUV was found a little more than a week later, abandoned near the Catawba River in Belmont.

Police got the new lead from the friend of the witness, but the original witness is balking at talking to police.

They (the witness) decided at that point and time, that they were kind of scared, said Michael Stephens, the ex-husband of Simpson. He has remained close to her family and has acted as a spokesperson throughout the search.

They saw something and it didn't look right, is all Stephens will say about the information the witness has. He did not want to jeopardize the case by saying anything more, but said the information could be vital to finding Simpson.

A couple of questions would be asked of the person and if they come out like we think, it could very well be, he said.

Stephens wrote a letter to the mystery witness that was published Thursday morning on the editorial page of the Charlotte Observer.

He wrote:

We thank you for the information you have already given through a friend. This possible small piece of the puzzle gave us hope, when we had nothing.

Investigators want to talk to the original witness because information from the friend would be second-hand and considered hearsay at any trial that might be held in the future,

Stephens and the family are putting together a reward fund and hope that might get the reluctant witness to come forward.

It is just come and talk, said Stephens, pleading with the witness who might know something that could solve the mystery of what happened to Janet Simpson.

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