Carlie Trent (left), Gary Simpson (right) (Source: TBI)
Carlie Trent (Source: TBI)
Carlie was last seen with her non-custodial uncle, Gary Simpson (Source: TBI)
NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) -
Carlie Trent has been found safe in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Her uncle, Gary Simpson, is in custody.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said Donnie Lawson and Stewart Franklin searched a rural area and came across Simpson. One of the men held Simpson at gunpoint while the other called 911.
Gwyn said Carlie appeared to be in good health when law enforcement arrived. He said doctors are now examining her to be sure.
"Thank God she was rescued safe, and let's pray all the medical examinations turn out positive," Gwyn said. "You can't put a price on Carlie's life."
In seven days, TBI received more than 1,850 tips about Trent and Simpson across 19 different states. Tennessee Amber Alert Coordinator Margie Quin said that might even be a record number of tips for a seven day period.
NBC Affiliate WBIR conducted an interview with one of the men who helped rescue Carlie, Rodger Carpenter, who was also reported during the TBI press conference as one of the men present when Trent was rescued and Simpson was arrested.
"I've been searching for Carlie ever since the second day, searched every day except Sunday," Carpenter said. "I'm no hero by no means. I'm blessed."
Carpenter, a Baptist pastor, said he gives God all the glory and credit for Carlie being located and him being able to help find her.
"We were very close yesterday morning, and just missed it," Carpenter said. "We was right on him yesterday. We came a hair from getting him yesterday and didn't even realize it."
You can view Carpenter's entire Facebook Live interview with NBC Affiliate WBIR here:
Carpenter said it was thanks to a commitment the searchers made each other that eventually led to the discover of Simpson and Trent.
"[Yesterday] we couldn't find any tire marks.It was surprising that he had got where he was," Carpenter said. "It was a lot drier when he got there. It threw us for a loop for a little while. Then we made a decision when we started doing this not to leave one path, one road uncovered. We knew if we ever did we was going to have to back track. And we done it yesterday morning, all because we didn't see a track."
It was that decision, according to Carpenter, that led to Trent's recovery.
"About 1 o'clock today we said we got to go back and check those places we didn't check - and thank God we did," Carpenter said. "Thank God we went back".
He said has searched almost every day Carlie has been missing, with the exception of one day.
"I took the day off Sunday to worship and I took my grandkid to Dollywood and I felt guilty," Carpenter said. "I felt like I needed to be out there every minute of the day."
He said the entire search made him proud to be a Tennessean.
"I had a woman come up the mountain and feed me yesterday because she saw me out walking," he said. "It makes me proud to be a Tennessee Volunteer."
During the TBI press conference reporters asked Gwyn if issuing the Amber Alert helped TBI find Carlie, since the majority of the tips turned out to be unfounded.
Gwyn said the Amber Alert and the public's response to it (including all the tips) proved critical in finding Carlie.
"You've got to keep pressure out there. You've got to keep the word out there. You've got to keep the public involved," Gwyn said. "I think it worked, because the public is who rescued Carlie."
Simpson and Carlie were found in an area that is only accessibly by foot or four-wheeler. In the rural area, investigators also found the white van Simpson drove when he abducted Carlie.
TBI said Simpson abducted Trent from her school in Rogersville, Tennessee, on May 4. Rogersville is located in Hawkins County where Trent was found May 12. After abducting Trent, Simpson went to a store and bought camping materials.
Simpson was added to TBI's Most Wanted list on Thursday morning on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping.