AMBER alert issued for kidnapped Rogersville girl; Mother pleas for uncle to ‘bring her home’

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ROGERSVILLE, TN (WJHL) – A mother is pleading the community to help find her missing 9-year-old girl.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an AMBER alert Thursday morning  — escalating the call for help and alerting the public to her uncle now wanted for kidnapping.

The girl’s mother, Shannon Trent is in shock and just wants her daughter home as quickly as possible.

Carlie Trent

“I don’t understand why he did this,” said Trent. “I’m confused, our whole family is confused. We just want her back.”

A spokesman for the Rogersville Police Department told News Channel 11 the man who picked up his niece from school Wednesday, prompting an AMBER Alert, was approved to do so.

According to Hawkins County Schools Director, Steve Starnes, “The individual who picked up Carlie Trent on May 4th had been designated in writing by the parent as having authority to pick the child up from school.” In addition, district school officials report Simpson had picked up Trent from school before and  “documentation on file at the school listed Mr. Simpson as a legal guardian”.

Gary Simpson, 57, and his 9-year-old niece, Carlie Marie Trent, are the subjects of what started as an endangered child alert late Wednesday night but was upgraded to an AMBER Alert by Thursday morning.

According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Rogersville Police Department , Simpson showed up at her school in Rogersville Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and picked her up, claiming that her father had been in a bad car wreck and that she wouldn’t be back at the school the next day.  The two have not been seen since that time.

Authorities said Simpson and Trent could be anywhere and officers are running down every lead.

TBI agents say they are following every lead. Recent, surveillance images captured Simpson shopping at the Rogersville Walmart shortly before picking up Carlie at her school.See also: TBI releases surveillance of Rogersville kidnap suspect; Uncle, niece may be in isolated area

Investigators say, despite their best efforts, there hasn’t been any credible sightings of Carlie, Simpson or the van they are believed to be traveling in. Investigators believe the two may be in an isolated are like a campground or a state park.

A tip was called into 911 dispatch in Johnson County, Tennessee on Thursday evening regarding a possible sighting of the van in Mountain City heading towards Boone, NC. News Channel 11 spoke with Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece who said the tip “turned out to be the wrong van”.

We also spoke with Rogersville Police Department on Friday. RPD said they are continuing to receive numerous tips from various states but so far nothing has panned out.

Agents with the TBI released more images of Carlie on social media Thursday evening:

The Rogersville police chief said his department is worried for Carlie’s safety because of the amount of time that has gone by and Simpson avoiding contact with people that he knows.

“He does have this girl… that doesn’t sound right and it doesn’t all add up. So, we believe that she is in danger,” said Doug Nelson, Jr. Rogersville Police Chief. “We just want to get her back and make sure that she’s safe and sound just as quickly as we can. We don’t want anything to happen to her and that’s our biggest concern is her safety right now.”

Hawkins County director of schools Steve Starnes said Thursday afternoon, “All procedures were followed. We verified. Additionally, we reviewed our surveillance video identifying and showing that that secretary did, in fact, pull the emergency card as directed.

“This really concerns me. This is one of the worst things we deal with in law enforcement,” said Nelson.

Twenty-four hours later as the family waits for answers, they are asking for one thing:  “Please bring her home, Gary…safe,” said Trent. “Carlie…we love you so much. Gary, please bring her home,” said Trent, Carlie’s mom. “

TBI Public Information Officer Josh DeVine tweeted new pictures of suspect Gary Simpson who was reportedly seen at Walmart in Rogersville Wednesday evening.

Carlie is 4’8″ tall, weighs 75lbs with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a black and gray tank top shirt with blue jeans.

Simpson is a 57-year-old white male, 5’10” tall, weighing 157lbs. He is balding and has brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown cap, a dark-colored shirt and jeans.

 The two were last seen in a white 2002 Dodge Conversion van with a license tag number of 173GPS. The van has a dark stripe down the middle with light gold running boards. Paint is chipping off the hood.

Simpson is Trent’s uncle by marriage. He is facing a charge of kidnapping.

Anyone who has information is asked to call the Rogersville Police Department at 423-272-7555 or TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

The following is statement from Hawkins County Schools:

“It is the policy of the Hawkins County Board of Education that no child will be permitted to leave school prior to regular dismissal unless they are in the company of a parent, legal guardian, school-employee, police officer, court officer, or a person designated in writing by the parent(s).  Also, all current legal custodial orders must be on file in the student’s permanent cumulative record folder.

The individual who picked up Carlie Trent on May 4th had been designated in writing by the parent as having authority to pick the child up from school.  The school secretary checked the child’s emergency card and verified that Mr. Simpson had permission to sign the child out from school.  Mr. Simpson had picked the child up from school on a previous occasion, as well.  Additionally, documentation on file at the school listed Mr. Simpson as a legal guardian.

In order to verify that all Hawkins County policy and safety procedures were followed precisely on May 4th, Hawkins County school officials have reviewed surveillance video and have documented that all procedures were followed correctly.

Our prayers go out to the family for a safe and speedy return of Carlie Trent.”Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.    

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