ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina man has a court appearance set for Tuesday in Kentucky after he was accused of kidnapping a teen girl who escaped by flashing TikTok video hand gestures to signal she was in danger.
James Herbert Brick, 61, of Cherokee, took a 16-year-old girl from her home in Asheville early last week, according to North Carolina authorities.
The girl was reported missing from the Maple Avenue area by her parents Tuesday, Asheville police said.
The girl and Brick were acquainted, and she initially went with the man willingly, but at some point became scared, said Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, spokesman for the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.
A missing person’s alert was issued by Asheville police Thursday.
The news that the girl was missing triggered Brick to decide to leave his relatives in Ohio Thursday where he had taken the girl, officials said.
“When the male subject’s relatives realized that the female in his custody was underage and reported missing, the accused left Ohio,” the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said.
The girl was found in Kentucky Thursday afternoon after a driver on Interstate 75 in Laurel County saw the teen making hand gestures that he remembered from a TikTok video.
The signals are a code for help in domestic violence situations.
The driver kept following the man and girl, who were in a silver Toyota car. The driver kept giving 911 dispatchers info about the car until deputies moved in and rescued the girl at exit 41 on Highway 80 near London, Kentucky.
The signal the girl used was to raise a hand, showing her palm with a thumb extended, she then tucked a thumb into her palm and lowering fingers over it, as if to trap the thumb.
During the investigation, deputies found a cellphone Brick had that portrayed a girl “in a sexual manner,” Laurel County deputies said.
Brick was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18 – first offense.
Brick is being held on a $10,00 bond. He is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Laurel County, according to the Kentucky court system.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report