ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – It has been almost a week since an Amber Alert was issued for Carlie Trent.
The 9-year-old was removed from school Wednesday by her uncle by marriage, Gary Simpson, 57, under false pretenses, according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Police say Gary Simpson told school officials Trent’s father was in a car accident and she may not be in school on Thursday as well. They said Gary Simpson has no custodial rights to Carlie Trent and their whereabouts are unknown.
- Last seen driving a white 2002 Dodge Conversion van
- Tennessee License Plate 173-GPS
- Van has dark stripe down the middle with light gold running boards and paint chipping off the hood
- Anyone who sees the van should call 9-1-1
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said at a press conference Monday night the search for Carlie Trent and her uncle Gary Simpson is ongoing and will continue until she is found or there are no more leads. The number of tips that have come in has increased to over 500, but so far there have been no verified sightings.
The U.S. Marshal’s Service is increasing their portion of the reward to $5,000, raising the grand total to over $15,000. DeVine also directly addressed Simpson, pleading with him to bring the girl home.
“This community wants you to do the right thing, Gary, and bring Carlie home,” he said. “There is nothing that has happened that can’t be corrected.”
DeVine said earlier U.S. Marshals and TBI have set up command posts in Rogersville. Tennessee Highway Patrol is also doing air searches on an as needed basis, but DeVine described using air searches as looking for “a needle in a haystack.”
While DeVine said TBI still has no specific information on where Gary Simpson and Carlie Trent could be, he said they set up in Rogersville because it is the epicenter of the search.
TBI said during a press conference on Monday the pair haven’t been seen since shopping for non-perishable items at a Save-A-Lot in Rogersville on Wednesday. Before picking up Carlie Trent, he was also spotted at a Walmart, buying camping supplies for a child.
“The reason we released that video from the Save-A-Lot is you can tell a lot by the way someone walks, so maybe they’re not in their vehicle anymore, maybe they are walking down the side of the road,” said DeVine. “We’re hoping that someone recognizes their gait and say I’ve seen someone walk that way. You can tell a lot by the way someone moves and by the way someone walks and we’re hoping that will be an additional piece of information that will help the public recognize them.”
DeVine said there’s no specific evidence they’ve gone beyond the Tennessee border, but there also isn’t any evidence that they haven’t. Rogersville police issued warrants for kidnapping for Gary Simpson. DeVine said there are also some additional factors that TBI is not releasing in the search.
“Suffice it to say we’ve developed some information that only adds to our concern for this child’s well-being, but I can’t really get into particulars,” added DeVine. “There is no indication that Gary Simpson made any immediate threats, but we do know he was not truthful.”
Rogersville Police Chief Doug Nelson says Gary Simpson is on Carlie Trent’s pick-up list at school but they believe he lied to school staff on Wednesday, saying Carlie’s dad had been in a bad car accident.
“So they signed the child out to him and he also made a statement which I think is kind of a key element to this too ‘She probably won’t be back in school tomorrow either.’ Which is kind of a red flag to us,” said Chief Nelson.
DeVine said TBI is holding out hope that Carlie Trent is alive and is urging the community to do the same. He said the Amber Alert will remain in affect until the case comes to a conclusion.
“We have three outstanding Amber Alerts that have been in place for more than a year,” said Devine. “Once we escalate to an Amber Alert, we don’t deescalate until we resolve the situation.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Rogersville Police Department at 423-272-7555 or 1-800-TBI-FIND. TBI said if anyone spots the van, they should call 911 directly.
Rewards offered for Carlie Trent’s return
The United States Marshal’s Service announced Monday they are increasing their previous reward of $2,500 to $5,000 reward for the safe return of Trent and for information leading to Gary Simpson’s arrest.
On Saturday, Carlie’s pediatrician, Dr. Chris Calendine, informed the TBI he will offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe recovery of the child. Dr. Calendine previously planned to use the money to save for a boar but indicated he would rather see the money used to further the effort to bring Carlie home.
A Nashville musician wants to add to the reward as well. Trey Healy, a dog groomer by day and a musician by night, wants to add $5,000.