DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A missing Davidson County teenager has been found safe in Pennsylvania, and a suspect is in custody.
Law enforcement confirmed on Thursday morning that a 15-year-old girl had been found after she was last seen at her Thomasville home on March 29.
Elijah Kennedy, 28, has been arrested on charges of child abduction and felonious restraint.
Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons said during a Thursday news conference that the victim was found safe in Bristol, Pennsylvania, early Thursday morning and moved to a safe location. The sheriff’s office is working with Richard Childress Racing to fly up to Pennsylvania and bring her home on Thursday.
Simmons says he believes there was “significant coercion” involved in this case and that the victim had been in contact with the suspect over social media.
“It involved several people on the internet, Facebook, that she was on these platforms with,” Simmons said. “Two out of Ohio with some sexual predator charges against them, and one that was located early this morning, about 2:30, in Pennsylvania.”
Simmons did not elaborate on the two suspects from Ohio.
The initial call reporting the victim missing came in at about 4:30 p.m. on March 29. The girl was learning remotely while her family was at work. The sheriff’s office immediately contacted SBI and FBI, and agencies have been working nonstop.
A surveillance camera captured images of a vehicle near her home at the time she disappeared. It is believed to be a 2020 to 2023 octane blue Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with dark-tinted windows.
The sheriff’s office is still investigating exactly how she got to Pennsylvania.
She was found at about 2:30 a.m. in Bristol, Pennsylvania. While the sheriff’s office declined to describe the specific location or context in which she was found, Simmons said she was in good condition and healthy.
“It’s a thing that probably the kids know more than their parents do about social media,” Simmons said. “It’s sad that it is, but that’s the way it is. These kids, you know, they think they want to be adults, and they want to grow up, and they are, but they’re going on these sites, thinking they’re talking to someone their own age or something like this, and they’re groomed to meet these people. It looks like a good idea. They do it, and then they find out that it’s very dangerous. We’re just very fortunate to be able to get this girl.”
The news comes just weeks after a 13-year-old from Dallas was found in Davidson County. She was kept where Jorge Ivan Santos Camacho was staying allegedly “with the intent that the 13-year-old female be held in sexual servitude.” The victim was found locked in an outbuilding on Linwood-Southmont Road that was locked from the outside, according to detectives.
“It’s everywhere,” Simmons said. “It’s a nation that’s been taken by this. Our kids are in very much danger.”