UPDATE: 5-year-old found safe, sex offender in custody

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) - Poplar Bluff Police confirm that the hunt for a registered sex offender and a 5-year-old is now over.

Although police cannot give very much information on the capture, they have said that both Abigail Bertholf and 46-year-old Jeffery Shelton, of Poplar Bluff, are now in police custody. They were found in southern Butler County near the intersection Highway 67 and Highway 160.

Police say Abigail is said to be safe and sound.

It appears that Shelton was still in the vehicle police were searching for.

During a press conference earlier Wednesday, the Poplar Bluff Police department pleaded with Shelton to release Abigail, who was reported missing early Wednesday morning.

"Let her out at a convenience store or a hospital. Let's get her back safely," said Police Chief Danny Whiteley.

Police did issue an Amber Alert for Abigail, who was thought to be in the company Shelton.

According to investigators, the child's mother, Eva Crawford, said she last saw her at 10 p.m. Tuesday when she put her to bed in her home on the 2100 block of Woods Street. She said when she woke up before 6 a.m., and noticed Abigail was missing.

Abigail was reported missing around 6:50 a.m.

Poplar Bluff Police Captain Dave Sutton said Shelton is not related to Abigail or her family, and Deputy Jeff Rolland said Crawford told police she had last seen Abigail asleep on the couch in the living room of her home.

"[We] can't disclose anything on his background that led to him as a suspect. This is a dangerous individual. Let law enforcement handle it," explained Whiteley.

Captain Sutton also said that officers had originally responded to the home due to a domestic assault call, and Shelton was last seen leaving Wood Street with Abigail by his side around 6:30 a.m., though police have not said who reported the sighting.

Family members we spoke with say police cut out part of a window screen and took part of the couch for evidence.

Neighbors say Shelton hung around the area a lot. One mother says she confronted Shelton about being too close to her children.

Shelton is a registered sex offender. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol, Shelton was arrested in 1990 for the kidnapping, rape, and sodomy of a 12-year-old girl in Fort Hood, Texas.

To read the Amber Alert, go to www.amberalert.com.

The Poplar Bluff and Butler County Major Case Squad responded to the incident, and a command post was set up at the Poplar Bluff Police Department. Additional help is coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation from Cape Girardeau and St. Louis Missouri.

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