DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A teenager from Davidson County is back in North Carolina and reunited with her family.
Deputies said the 15-year-old girl was found nearly 500 miles away from her home after Elijah Kennedy, 28, abducted her.
The ordeal has taken a toll on the victim’s family. They barely slept for eight days and feared the girl would never come home. The teen’s older sister spent day and night searching for her sibling.
She got to hug her younger sister tight Thursday night. It was an emotional moment. The family wanted to thank everyone in the Thomasville community who supported them. Now, the focus is on moving forward.
“I know we’re going to try a lot with maybe family therapy and things like that to come to a conclusion on what might be the problem,” her older sister said. “Just with love and to make sure she knows that her family is here for her 100 percent. So just remind her of all of that.”
This is the second young girl Davidson County deputies have found in less than a month after men they met on chat apps abducted them.
The first was on March 1. Deputies said Jorge Camacho met a 13-year-old Dallas girl at her home and drove her to Davidson County where he kept her locked in a shed on Linwood-Southmont Road in Lexington.
FBI agents are frustrated these types of cases keep going up, and so is Sheriff Richie Simmons. He’s asking commissioners for money to create a team solely focused on cyber crimes.
“They are groomed to meet these people, and it looks like a good idea. They do it, and then they find out it’s very dangerous,” Simmons said.
In 2021, the CyberTipline the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children runs received 29.3 million reports on crimes against children online. It’s up from 21.7 million in 2020.
Those are concerning numbers for Simmons. He’s looking to create 12 new positions dedicated to online predator cases. County commissioners support him.
“This should not be a sanctuary state for individuals, for monsters like this,” Commissioner Chris Elliott said. “We need to make sure that we’re doing all that we can, we have the top-notch staff, the most up-to-date technology so that we can assure that our children are safe.”
The county manager and the four commissioners FOX8 spoke to Thursday night will add this to next year’s budget talks.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if we can prevent these things from happening here, it’s just going to make Davidson County a better place to live for everybody,” Elliott said.
The sheriff said to add these new positions would cost about $500,000.
The county manager will give his proposed budget to commissioners in May, and they will vote on it in June.