Abducted North Carolina 6-Year-Old, Stefanny Lopez-Castro, Found Alive And Chained To Tree, Sex Offender In Custody
A missing and abducted North Carolina 6-year-old was found alive on Thursday. Stefanny Lenneth Lopez-Castro had been taken from her Royal Palms, North Carolina, home at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, resulting in an Amber Alert being issued. As WECT reports, witnesses saw the abducted North Carolina 6-year-old being taken from her home’s driveway by an unidentified man on a black moped on Wednesday night.
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded to the reported abduction almost immediately on Wednesday night, and the department had several leads in the case of the abducted North Carolina 6-year-old by Thursday morning. At the time she went missing, the Amber Alert listed her alleged abductor as being a white male wearing all black, including a black helmet. Local volunteers and law enforcement had been planning an organized search effort for abducted North Carolina 6-year-old Stefanny Lopez-Castro on Thursday, but that proved to be unnecessary.
As Fox 13 Now reports, the abducted North Carolina 6-year-old was found in relatively good condition early Thursday morning, only roughly two miles from where she was abducted. According to eyewitness accounts of the North Carolina 6-year-old’s rescue, police found her chained to a tree in a forested area.
thank you Jesus!!
— Karen Ford?? (@gr8colours) September 15, 2016
David and McMahon said they identified Douglas Edwards "early on" and had him under surveillance throughout the night.
— Adam Wagner (@ByAdamWagner) September 15, 2016
In addition to the 6-year-old victim being found alive on Thursday, her alleged abductor was also located and taken into custody. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office has identified their suspect in the case as 46-year-old Douglas Edwards. He was reportedly arrested in New Hanover County and is now facing charges of first-degree kidnapping.
As the investigation into the abduction of 6-year-old Stefanny Lopez-Castro moves forward, it is possible that Edwards will face additional charges for his alleged crimes.
According to the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry, the man arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping of the North Carolina 6-year-old is a registered sex offender. A public record search using the North Carolina sex offender registry reveals that the suspect, who is believed to have abducted the 6-year-old, was convicted over two decades ago of the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old child.
— WPDE ABC15 (@wpdeabc15) September 15, 2016
In that case, Douglas Edwards was convicted of first-degree sexual offense and indecent liberties with a minor in 1996. According to the North Carolina sex offender registry, Edwards was convicted on May 30, 1996, and received a 20-year incarceration sentence. Public records indicate that the suspect in the abduction of the North Carolina 6-year-old was released on May 5, 2012.
So far, investigators haven’t revealed precisely where they made their Thursday morning arrest. Reportedly, tips from the local community resulted in the convicted sex offender being in the sights of local law enforcement beginning on Wednesday night. That was when the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office began to utilize surveillance efforts on the suspect in the case of abducted North Carolina 6-year-old Stefanny Lopez-Castro, according to Sheriff McMahon.
The precise nature of the abducted 6-year-old’s physical condition has not been released, other than to say that she is “alive and well.” However, Sheriff McMahon did get emotional about the case at a Thursday news conference when he mentioned that his own granddaughter is the same age as little Stefanny Lopez-Castro.
“I have a granddaughter at that age. It’s personal when this is in our community and this stuff doesn’t normally happen, so this is very personal and it should be to everybody.”
Missing female found alive in good condition at hospital! pic.twitter.com/l2NonMDmFI
— New Hanover Sheriff (@NewHanoverSO) September 15, 2016
After she was found, the abducted North Carolina 6-year-old was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. Her family has reportedly asked for the media and public to respect their privacy at this time, but did release a statement by way of the hospital.
“We would like to first and foremost thank God, the police department, the sheriff’s office and all the communities that went out to search for her in the rain and on their own time. Thank you to our neighbors and friends and St. Mary’s Church who were praying for her and any others who were praying for her.”
While the family of the abducted North Carolina 6-year-old is obviously distraught over the ordeal she and they endured, they are said to be rejoicing that Stefanny was found alive.
[Featured Image by New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office/Flier]