- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2016

An armed minister and his civilian companion were able to end a Tennessee Amber Alert case Thursday, finding a 9-year-old girl missing for a week and capturing the uncle suspected of kidnapping her.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Carlie Trent, 9, and her uncle by marriage, Gary Simpson, were found near Highway 70 North in Surgoinsville, a rural area in the northeastern part of the state not far from where the girl lived and went missing.

According to Knoxville TV station WVLT, the key tip came when Donnie Lawson and Roger Carpenter of Hawkins County found the girl and her uncle “deep in their property along trails only accessible by four-wheelers.”

TBI Director Mark Gwyn told reporters that Mr. Carpenter, a Baptist minister, was armed and able to hold Mr. Simpson at gunpoint while the other man called the police.

Carlie is safe tonight because of an entire community pulling together and working with law enforcement to bring Carlie home,” Mr. Gwyn said.

The two men were responding to police requests that people with all-terrain vehicles search the heavily wooded terrain.

“This is just two heroes that went onto the property just to see, by chance, could they be there,” he said. “And they were.”

Mr. Gwyn said the young girl seemed to be fine and unharmed but would need to be examined by medical professionals.

“I hoped this is the way it would end. I’m just thankful to the good Lord that it ended this way and [Carlie] didn’t get hurt,” said Linda Simpson, the wife of Mr. Simpson and Carlie’s aunt.

Mr. Simpson, 57, will be charged with aggravated kidnapping and other charges are possible, Mr. Gwyn said.

According to Nashville TV station WKRN, Mr. Simpson had picked Carlie up from school under false pretenses May 5, and she hadn’t been seen since except on surveillance footage at a convenience store.

Mr. Simpson was put on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s “10 most wanted list” on Thursday, and the reward in the case was increased to $40,000. Officials said then that Carlie was in “imminent danger.”

Carlie, along with her younger sister, had stayed with the Simpsons while the girls’ father — Mrs. Simpson’s brother — was jailed on drug charges, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said earlier Thursday. But the girls went back to his custody in 2015.

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