Missing Tennessee girl found safe

And, an armed pastor is to thank

Authorities confirmed 9-year-old Carlie Trent was found yesterday afternoon more than a week after she was kidnapped by her uncle in Tennessee.

Donnie Lawson, Stuart Franklin, Larry Hamblen and Roger Carpenter — a Baptist minister — were searching a rural property out in Hawkins County when they stumbled upon little Carlie Trent and her uncle, 57-year-old Gary Simpson, Franklin told the Daily News.

Carpenter held Simpson at gunpoint while Lawson went to call the authorities. The remote area was accessible only with four-wheel drive vehicles and had limited cell phone service, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn.

The girl and her uncle were discovered just 20 miles from Rogersville, where Carlie had been in school last Wednesday when Simpson pulled her from class under the false pretense that her father had been in a serious car wreck.

When Carlie never got off the school bus that afternoon, her family began to worry and contacted police. Authorities in Eastern Tennessee began a search that evening; an AMBER Alert was issued the next day.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received more than 2,000 tips and reported sightings from at least 19 different states before Simpson was captured and the girl saved Thursday afternoon — just miles from home.

Franklin, who helped find Carlie, said his group had ridden some 90 miles on ATVs searching some 40 rural properties Thursday. They were about ready to give up for the day when they checked one last area in Gravelly Valley.

Franklin told The News he isn’t allowed to divulge details of the moment they found the girl, but thanked the community for their prayers.

“Prayers do work and the girl is safe now,” he said. “If there is hope in every situation like this when looking for missing people, every person in the community needs to do their part in looking and helping search buildings and places for missing folks.”

Thank God this girl was found safe, and again, another example of how firearms, in the right hands, do so much good

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