Carlie Trent Update: Investigators Urge Public To Focus On Missing Girl, Not Custody Case

Carlie Trent, a 9-year-old girl kidnapped from Rogersville, Tennessee, last week, remains missing. On Wednesday, investigators made a plea with the public to focus on finding the young girl, instead of trying to figure out why the man who allegedly abducted her lost custody of her.

CBS Local 8 reports that Josh Devine, a public information officer for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), is urging the public to trust that Carlie is in grave danger. Some people are starting to shift the focus more onto why Gary Simpson, 57, was in a custody battle over the girl. Simpson is accused of kidnapping Carlie on May 4, just a day after he lost custody of her to her biological father.

Authorities have not yet released the details of the custody battle, but Devine wants the public to know that the child’s safety is the top priority, and the rumors that Simpson took the child to protect her should be stopped.

“We need the public to trust us. When we say this child is in danger, we absolutely mean it. We are not joking around with this. It’s too serious. This is a 9-year-old girl on the line, and you better believe we’re doing anything and everything to bring this girl home.”

Simpson doesn’t have a criminal record, but his wife also thinks that Carlie is in danger. She recently said that her husband left her alone to care for their special needs son who needs to be looked after 24 hours a day, and that he must be up to “something bad” if he resorted to kidnapping.

Investigators believe that Simpson is hiding out in an isolated area with Carlie, and although he stopped to pick up numerous camping supplies, he’ll eventually need to come out of hiding for food. Everyone is asked to be on the lookout for Simpson, a balding man standing 5 foot 10 inches tall, with brown hair, brown eyes, and glasses. He weighs around 157 pounds and generally wears a cap, which hides his balding head.

Carlie has blonde hair, blue eyes, stands 4 feet 8 inches tall, and weighs around 75 pounds. She was taken from her elementary school last week by Simpson, shortly after he lost custody of her. In fact, Simpson checked the child out of school so quickly after his court hearing that the school district still didn’t know he’d lost custody. He was last seen driving a 2002 model Dodge conversion van, with brown stripes and gold running boards. The van has a Tennessee license plate number of 173GPS, and has paint chipping off of its hood.

On Wednesday, Devine issued a plea to Simpson, in hopes that he may somehow have access to the news.

“Your family is eager to hear from you, and your family is eager and anxious to have Carlie home. We would encourage you, Gary, to do the right thing and bring Carlie home. There is nothing that you’ve done that can’t be fixed.”

Meanwhile, tips continue to pour in, but so far nothing has led to the pair’s whereabouts. Simpson may still be in Tennessee, camping out in a rural area. Residents who own rural properties are asked to drive around their properties and contact authorities if they see anything suspicious. Simpson could have also fled the state, so investigators are asking people everywhere to keep an eye out for anyone who matches the pair’s descriptions.

Anyone with information should contact the Rogersville Police Department at 423-272-7555 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND. There is currently a $15,000 reward for the safe return of Carlie Trent and information that leads to Simpson’s apprehension.

[Photo by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations]