Family: Carlie Trent being evaluated at area hospital, happy 9-year-old is safe

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HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said during a news conference that TBI would be working closely with District Attorney Dan Armstrong to prosecute AMBER Alert suspect Gary Simpson to the fullest extent of the law, after two Hawkins County residents found Simpson and 9-year-old Carlie Trent in a remote area of the county Thursday afternoon.

Gary Simpson to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law:

TBI Director Mark Gwyn started the news conference in Nashville Thursday, by saying he was pleased and relieved this evening that Carlie Trent was found Thursday.

“I am very pleased and relieved [tonight] to announce that the AMBER Alert issued for the Rogersville Police Department on May 5, for Carlie Trent, has been successfully resolved,” Gwyn said. “Carlie is safe tonight because an entire community pulled together and worked with law enforcement to bring her home.”

Gwyn stressed, though, that TBI’s work was not done.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll work with the District Attorney Dan Armstrong to ensure that Gary Simpson is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Gwyn said. “Gary Simpson is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping, but officers and agents will pursue additional charges if warranted.”

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson confirmed Thursday night that Simpson, who was taken to the Hawkins County Jail, has been scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Gwyn also applauded two Hawkins County residents who helped find and secure Carlie Trent on Thursday.

“As part of the child abduction response protocol strategies were put in place to aid in bringing Carlie home. One of these techniques is to ask the public to check their property – barns, outbuildings and 4-wheel trails,” Gwyn said. “Two conscientious Hawkins County residents did just that. Donnie Lawson and Stewart Franklin found … Gary Simpson and Carlie Trent deep into their property along trails only accessible by four-wheel drive.”

According to TBI, Franklin held Gary Simpson at gunpoint, while Lawson called 911 and rescued Carlie.

“We are sure the family of Carlie Trent sends their heartfelt thanks to the actions that were taken today,” Gwyn said.

Two other men – Roger Carpenter and Larry Hamblen – were also searching for Carlie on the same property.

According to WATE, Franklin was reportedly riding an ATV when he found Carlie walking around carrying a teddy bear on property belonging to Lawson’s brother.

During the news conference Gwyn thanked all of the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies involved in the search for Carlie Trent.

“We would like to thank the Rogersville Police Department, Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Marshal’s Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennesse Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Emergency Management and the Tennessee National Guard, for all of their assistance in this case,” Gwyn said.

Gwyn said Carlie appeared to be OK and was headed to Johnson City Medical Center.

He also added that the 2002 white van was recovered near a campsite where Simpson and Trent were staged. The van will be taken to Strawberry Plains to TBI’s Crime Lab for processing.Watch the full news conference below:

Carlie appeared to be OK, taken to JCMC as a precaution:

News Channel 11’s Curtis McCloud was stationed across from the Johnson City Medical Center, where Carlie was reportedly taken to be checked out Thursday.

Carlie’s mother told Curtis that she was waiting on her Carlie, and Carlie’s father also responded to Johnson City Thursday.

Family members of Gary Simpson also told Curtis that they are thankful Carlie was found safe.

Local law enforcement reacts to Carlie Trent being found in Hawkins County:

Rogersville Police Chief Doug Nelson spoke to News Channel 11’s Kristen Quon, who said “I do know now for a fact that officers do have him (Simpson) in custody and she (Carlie Trent) is in safe hands.

According to Nelson, Carlie and Simpson were found in a very remote area of Hawkins County.

“They were found off of Highway 70- North in the Clinch Valley area, near the Hancock County line in a road that was a remote area,” Nelson said.

Nelson said they’ve heard that private citizens actually detained Carlie and Simpson and then called law enforcement.

According to Nelson, now that the AMBER Alert has been cancelled, his department will start conducting follow-up interviews and start building their case.

Nelson said he’s happy the search for Carlie and Simpson is over.

“I’m just ecstatic.It’s just a relief,” Nelson said. “It’s like the end of a nightmare in a way, I’m just glad it’s over with.”

Carlie’s family issued the following statement just minutes after officials said she had been found, “We are so happy that God answered prayers today and Carlie is home safe.”

Just after 5:15 p.m. Thursday, the AMBER Alert was cancelled for Carlie Trent in Rogersville.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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