Tennessee native Carlie Trent has finally been found safe after being kidnapped by her uncle last week. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made the joyous announcement on Thursday afternoon as the nationwide search and Amber Alert for the 9-year-old girl was called off.
The TBI had issued an Amber Alert for Carlie Marie Trent after it was reported on May 4 that she was missing when her uncle kidnapped her. The 57-year-old man, Gary Simpson, is Carlie’s uncle by marriage and signed her out from school under false pretenses. This evening WBIR is reporting that Josh Devine, a spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, is confirming that Gary Simpson has been taken into police custody.
The Amber Alert that was issued for young Carlie Trent led to an outpouring of tips to assist the girl and one finally paid off after almost eight days. Locating the 9-year-old and her non-custodial uncle was only possible for the police after an alleged sighting of the two was reported to the police. Mark Gwyn, the director of TBI, acknowledged the major role the community played in Carlie’s rescue.
“Carlie is safe tonight because of an entire community pulling together and working with law enforcement to bring Carlie home.”
It had previously been reported that Simpson and Trent may have been heading to a campground but that did not turn out to be the case. The missing girl and her captor were instead found on Highway 70 North at Gravely Valley Road in Eidson, still in Hawkin’s County which is the same northeastern Tennessee County she had vanished from. After being arrested, Simpson was taken to, and is still being held at, Hawkins County Jail and will be charged with especially aggravated kidnapping for taking Carlie without consent.
The TBI first reported the Carlie was found safe and that her uncle had been captured through an announcement on its Facebook page as well as its Twitter account. The TBI also reported at the same time that the Amber Alert that had been issued for the child was canceled.
Prior to locating the girl, the police had issued several press releases advising the public of how desperately Carlie Trent needed to be found. Carlie’s father was making statements which pointed to the possibility that the 9-year-old’s uncle was obsessed with her. The police made it quite clear that they believed the girl’s life was in imminent danger and pleaded that citizens to be vigilant in their aid of her and that is exactly what two Hawkins County residents did. According to Local 8 Now, the two were found on a property that had trails only four-wheelers could access. That was how the property owners, Donnie Lawson and Roger Carpenter searching for the two, found her safe.
Mark Gwyn advised the media that the men responded with quick thinking. Lawson was able to call 911 as Carpenter held Simpson at gunpoint. The agent said that Carlie appeared to be in good health, but medical professionals would be examining her at the hospital.
Linda Simpson, the wife of Gary Simpson, gave an interview shortly after the news was announced and said that Carlie was being taken to the hospital and her father was on his way there to meet her. At one point, Linda — who is the sister of Carlie Trent’s father — and Gary had custody of Carlie, but a judge awarded fully custody of her back to her father in 2015. The reasons surrounding the custody decisions is not known and unfortunately became a big focus of the public’s attention while the Amber Alert was still active. The investigators actually had to issue a press release asking that the public focus on rescuing Carlie instead of on the finer points of her custody situation.
Linda Simpson stated that she has not heard from her husband but is overjoyed and so thankful to know that Carlie has been found safe.
“I hoped this is the way it would end. I’m just thankful to the good Lord that it ended this way and [Carlie] didn’t get hurt.”
[Photo Courtesy of The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]