Amber Alert cancelled: Carlie Trent found, uncle in custody

WATE Staff – ROGERSVILLE (WATE) – Carlie Trent has been found safe after an eight-day Amber Alert and her uncle by marriage Gary Simpson has been taken into custody.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says after an eight-day Amber Alert, two citizens, Donnie Lawson and Roger Carpenter, were checking property in the Clinch Vallye area, as the TBI had asked people to do, when they found Carlie and her uncle on a trail only accessible by a four-wheeler. Carpenter, a Baptist minister, held Simpson at gunpoint while Carpenter rescued Carlie and called 911.

"This is a case of two heroes who went on their property to see if, by chance, if they were there, and they were. I think this is a clear message to the public that we need your help on these kind of cases," said TBI director Mark Gwyn at a news conference Thursday evening.

Simpson has been arrested and charged with especially aggravated kidnapping. Gwyn said more charges could be filed if warranted. Carlie is on the way to a hospital in Johnson City to be checked out as a precaution. Gwyn said he can't put a price on Carlie's life, but the two men who found her deserve the $41,000 reward that has been offered.

Carlie's aunt, Gary Simpson's wife, Linda Simpson told WATE 6 On Your Side she wasn't surprised they were found so close to home. Simpson said she has not had contact with her husband and she is angry with him, but her main thought is happiness that Carlie was found.


ROGERSVILLE (WATE) – Gary Simpson has been added to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top Ten Most Wanted List. Simpson is wanted by the Rogersville Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for Especially Aggravated Kidnapping.

It's been over a week since Carlie Trent was in school. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation asked the public to trust them that Carlie Trent is in danger.

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. They were last seen in a white 2002 Dodge Conversion van with license plate 173-GPS.

A reward of at least $41,000 is being offered by several organizations and individuals for information leading to Carlie's safe return. More than 1,700 tips have been called in so far from 19 states. TBI spokesman Josh DeVine says air searches were performed late Wednesday night into Thursday morning and he is asking people to double check their barns and property, not just for Carlie Trent and Gary Simpson, but for signs they may have been there.

DeVine said Wednesday morning he has heard some disturbing rumors on social media that if Simpson was trying to protect Carlie Trent. He said he has seen tweets that asked "If Simpson didn't harm Carlie when he had custody, why would he do it now," or that he was trying to "protect her" from something.

"If we have 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," said DeVine. "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."

DeVine said that is the reason Amber Alerts are issued very judiciously. He said they are reserved for the most serious of cases and this is one of them.

"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're not joking around. It is too serious. This is a 9-year-old girl on the line and you had better believe we're doing anything and everything to bring this girl home."

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