Savannah Childress, 14, was reported missing on February 11 from her southern Davidson County home.
A teen girl, who had been missing from her home in North Carolina, made it back home after an adult male kidnapped her. There has been a steady increase in predators approaching children through social media and other online spaces during the pandemic. Savannah Childress, 14, was reported missing on February 11 from her southern Davidson County home.
It was found that she was using her school-issued computer to talk with an individual online. The man, identified as 38-year-old William Robert Ice of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, was talking to several other young girls in Alamance County as well, according to ABC 11.
The 38-year-old took Savannah from her Denton home, according to the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. The 14-year-old girl was found safe in Arkansas, which is almost 800 miles away from home, and has been taken back to her family 10 days after she went missing, said police in Lonoke, Arkansas, as per Good Morning America.
The girl was found by officers with the Lonoke Police Department in a McDonald's parking lot in Lonoke, Arkansas, in the evening on February 20. Officers saw the Dodge SUV driven by the kidnapper. They saw two people in the car and asked the driver to get out, but he refused. He shot one of the officers multiple times and he is critical. The second officer shot back but the suspect ran away and his car crashed and snowbanked.
He had a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was found. He later died at a Little Rock, Arkansas, hospital, police said. The wounded police officer, Cody Carpenter, is "expected to make a full recovery," said Lonoke police.
Multiple agencies had come together to look for the teenager including the State Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. Sergeant David Blake with the sheriff’s office revealed that the kidnapper had contacted many teenagers through multiple online platforms. "It definitely was a challenge to find him, after further investigation last night, and an interview with the victim, we do believe they immediately left the state once he kidnapped her," David said.
William was speaking to multiple underage girls in Alamance County, North Carolina, the sheriff's office said. They searched through his home and found names and addresses of 13-year-olds in Alamance County, said Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson. "Upon interviewing these individuals and also seizing their school computers, we found ... a total of 10 juveniles that had contact with Mr. Ice," Terry said.
He was wanted for multiple crimes in other states as well. He was "wanted by Pennsylvania law enforcement authorities in connection with other child predator cases," Arkansas State Police said.
Blake added, "We know Mr. Ice was actively, had actively been charged for crimes against a child. Physical crimes against a child. In addition to that we understand he’d been basically caught in an exploitation sting by law enforcement up in that area. He was actively on the run and he had warrants when he came here to pick up [the 14-year-old girl in Davidson County, North Carolina]."
The sergeant added that he was using different email accounts and chat rooms to get in touch with the minors. This method is used by many child predators. "We do know of at least two to three other juveniles in Davidson County," said the law enforcement officer. "Majority of them were females and one particular male. It seems to be a middle school age range that he was specifically targeting," he added.
Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons had an appeal for the safety of children. "Our kids need to be back in school. While they're in school there's firewalls for this. When they are taking tablets home, there’s nothing," he said.
Cover image source: Getty Images|Photo by Sam Thomas (Representative Image)