ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee man arrested in connection with the abduction of a 9-year-old girl remains in jail without bond.
Thursday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations said Carlie Trent, the girl at the center of a week-long Amber Alert, was found safe in a remote portion of the county from which she was taken.
The TBI said that two Hawkins County, Tennessee residents were checking a remote area when they spotted Carlie and her non-custodial uncle, Gary Simpson. Officials said Donnie Lawson and Pastor Roger Carpenter came across Simpson and held him at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.
Officials did not mention if Lawson and Carpenter will receive the substantial reward which has grown to over $40,000 with contributions from the U.S. Marshals Service to Carlie’s pediatrician.
Officials said Simpson was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and may face additional charges as the investigation progresses.
Carlie was taken to an area hospital to be checked out, but officials said that she appeared to okay.
Investigators have not yet determined how long Simpson had been at the location with his niece, if he was armed, or if anyone was helping him. They said they are still in the very early stages of this phase of the case.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the young girl was picked up from her Rogersville, Tennessee school on May 4 by Simpson under false pretenses. Police said Simpson told the school Carlie’s father had been in an accident. Investigators found out Carlie was in “imminent danger” and issued an Amber Alert.
Federal officials said her disappearance may have generated a record number of tips to law enforcement in their efforts to find her. Authorities said about 1850 tips came in from 22 different states over the seven days she was missing.
Law enforcement officials are calling this a textbook example of their child abduction protocols. They said the record number of tips was generated due to information on the child, alleged abductor and the unique vehicle being available and ready to release to the public.
Part of the information released was the unique details of Simpson’s vehicle, a 2002 white Dodge conversion van with TN registration 137 GPS. Authorities were able to describe the vehicle down to the dark stripe down the middle, the light gold running board on both sides, and even the chipping paint on the hood.
Officials for the past week has been asking people to check remote locations near them including barns, outhouses and other structures on their properties. They also were asking residents to be vigilant in other remote areas such as campgrounds and parks. Officials credited this request in helping to find Carlie safe.
The TBI has been updating the case on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and even started using the hashtag #BringCarlieHome which they said helped to gain national attention on the abduction. Officials had also been pushing out surveillance video through their YouTube channel in addition to new photos through their other social media accounts.
TBI agents released security video from a Walmart near Rogersville just shortly before Simpson went to pick up Carlie from school. Authorities initially described the items purchased as being “camping supplies.” But agents was later revealed the full list of items.
The Knoxville News Sentinel spoke with investigators who said Simpson purchased a pink and purple “plush throw” blanket, a green men’s short-sleeve shirt, men’s black pants, girls’ khaki pants, two shades of lipstick, two shades of nail polish, a pink folding camp chair, a purple child-sized nightgown, a bikini and a Fruit of the Loom brand girls’ multipack of underwear.
The TBI released a photo of some of the supplies purchased through their Twitter account. Investigators also said that Simpson stopped at a Save-A-Lot grocery store later that same day with Carlie to pick up several “nonperishable items.”
All these purchases led investigators to believe that Simpson had plans to hide away for an extended period of time.
Simpson was booked into jail on kidnapping charges. Officials said he will remain there without bond.
Rogersville is about 65 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee.