ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An extensive search for a 9-year-old east Tennessee girl continues a week after she was picked up from school by her uncle under false pretenses.
Gary Simpson picked Carlie Trent up from school last Wednesday and insinuated to school officials she would also be out of school on May 5. Authorities said Simpson previously had custody of Carlie but no longer has any custodial rights.
The two were later seen on surveillance video purchasing groceries at a Save-A-Lot. That’s the last time either Carlie or Simpson was seen. Click here to view surveillance video from the store.
Prior to picking her up from school, Simpson purchased camping gear, including a child-sized camping chair, a blanket, nail polish and clothing for himself and Carlie at an east Tennessee Walmart. He had also withdrew a “limited amount of cash,” according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
PHOTOS: AMBER Alert for Carlie Trent
An Endangered Child Alert for Carlie was escalated to an AMBER Alert one day after she was picked up from school.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said the agency has received more than 1,500 tips since she disappeared from at least 19 states. There have been no credible sightings of either of them.
DeVine also took time Wednesday to clarify the situation and respond to many comments on social media. He did not mince his words in explaining the TBI’s train of thought.
If we had not been abundantly clear about this since the get-go. Let me take the opportunity to say this as clearly as I possibly can. This was not an innocent camping trip. This was a crime. If I have not been abundantly clear about this, let me do so right now. We realize Gary Simpson is Carlie Trent’s uncle by marriage, but we have specific, we have credible information that Carlie Trent is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. That is why we issued an AMBER Alert. We do so judiciously for this very reason. They are reserved for the most serious of cases – and you had better believe that this is one of them. I cannot say that perhaps more strongly. We need the public to be on the lookout. We need the public to trust us. When we say this child is in danger, we absolutely mean it. We are not joking around with this. It’s too serious. This is a 9-year-old girl on the line. And you had better believe that we are doing anything and everything to bring this girl home.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine has publicly pleaded with Simpson to safely return Carlie to her family.
“There is nothing that has happened that can’t be corrected. Your family is eager to hear from you, and your family is eager and anxious to have Carlie home. We would encourage you, Gary, to bring Carlie home,” DeVine said. “Your family loves Carlie. They want her home and they want to see you come back. This community wants to see her come home. This community wants to see her back in school. This community wants to see her safe.”
Carlie is 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighs roughly 75 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Simpson is a 57-year-old white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 157 pounds. He is balding and has brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown cap, a dark colored shirt and jeans.
He was also last seen driving a white 2002 Dodge Conversion Van with TN registration 173-GPS. The van has a dark stripe down the middle with light gold running boards and paint is chipping off of the hood. If you see the van, call 911 immediately.
Anyone with information about on Carlie or Trent’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation by calling 1-800-TBI-FIND.