Uncle charged with kidnapping 9-year-old niece after buying lipstick and bikini
Two local residents discovered Carlie and her uncle, Gary Simpson, so far down a remote trail that emergency services needed a four-wheeler to access them
Published 13/05/2016 | 15:35
A man was arrested for kidnapping his 9-year-old niece after two local residents found the pair on their property a week later, according to authorities.
They were found in Hawkins County, a rural area in East Tennessee, down a trail so remote that emergency services needed a four-wheel car to access them.
Carlie Trent was picked up by her uncle Gary Simpson at Rogersville primary school on 4 May. He bought items including lipstick and a child's bikini before disappearing for nine days.
Missing nine-year-old girl 'in imminent danger'
Mr Simpson has been charged with “especially aggravated kidnapping,” Tennesse Bureau of Investigation director Mark Gwyn said at a press conference.
Carlie, who “appeared to be OK”, according to Mr Gwyn, was taken into hospital to be checked out.
Tennessee authorities had asked local residents to check their property, including barns and outbuildings to look for Carlie.
The pair were found by two local residents, Donnie Lawson and Baptist minister Roger Carpenter, on their property, far from the main road.
Mr Carpenter held Mr Simpson up at gunpoint while Mr Lawson called emergency services.
“We are sure that the family of Carlie Trent sends its heart-felt thanks for their actions today,” said Mr Gwyn in a statement.
Authorities listed the items Mr Simpson bought at a shop the day of the kidnapping on social media to alert the public of the disappearance.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will work with District Attorney Dan Armstrong to ensure that Gary Simpson is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr Gwyn said.
Mr Simpson, who is an uncle by marriage, previously had custody of Carlie and her younger sister, but they had since returned to their biological father, James Trent.
Authorities insisted that Carlie was “in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death” and the disappearance was not just the result of a guardianship battle.
Mr Trent told WVLT-TV that Mr Simpson, married to his sister, was “jealous” of the girl and that he and his wife often took care of their daughter.
“He had access to her every day, he was obsessed with her, he wanted her, and he wanted her all to himself,” Mr Trent said. “That's a scary thing to think about.”
Mr Trent said he did not think his brother-in-law would hurt his daughter but he was worried about her return.
“It would be a great moment, but then again it'll be a scary moment because I'm just wondering how she's going to be. Is she going to be as happy as she was? [Is] she going to be scared to death of everyone?“ he explained. ”That's what I worry about. She just won't be the same.“
The local police issued an amber alert when the girl disappeared and the police were flooded with hundreds of tips as to the pair’s whereabouts, but no credible lead came through until the two local residents called.
Independent News Service