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Amber Alert canceled after 12-year-old Henry County girl found safe, child abduction suspect in custody

Authorities said Merritt has been in contact with other young girls in the Henry County area

A Henry County girl is reunited with her family.
A Henry County girl is reunited with her family.

9:10 p.m. Saturday Update

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office released more information into the child abduction investigation of 12-year-old Allie Broadaway.

Broadaway was found Saturday evening in Henderson, North Carolina, where she was with 21-year-old Kaleb Merritt from Texas, who authorities say is a predator among young girls.

Sheriff Lane Perry said Merritt was taken into custody by North Carolina authorities without incident.

Kaleb Merritt is a suspect in the abduction of a Henry County girl (Henderson Police Dept.)

Perry said they received a community tip that led authorities to be able to track Merritt and Broadaway through an electronic device.

Authorities said they consider Broadaway a runaway. They said she was examined by EMS and they found no injuries present.

During the course of the investigation, Perry said they discovered that Merritt, who had been in the Henry County area for several days, has been in contact with other young girls.

The Sheriff’s Office believes he was in the area alone.

The investigation is ongoing.


7:43 p.m. Saturday Update

Virginia State Police has canceled the Amber Alert made for 12-year-old Allie Broadaway, per the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect, 21-year-old Kaleb Merritt, is in custody.

The Bassett girl was reported missing at 1:45 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry will be holding another press conference at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.


3:35 p.m. Saturday Update

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Saturday afternoon as Allie Broadaway has been reported missing for over 24 hours.

Sheriff Lane Perry told reporters that there was a credible siting for Broadaway and her suspected abductor, Kaleb Merritt, in Danville around the time she was reported missing.

Law enforcement in Danville told the Sheriff’s Office they saw the duo around 12:30 p.m. on Friday. Authorities remembered the vehicle later on once the Amber Alert was sent out Friday night.

Perry believes Broadaway and Merritt are still communicating with other people somehow, but they are still working to find out how and with whom.

Authorities said Broadaway’s school-aged friends tried reaching out to her.


10:50 a.m. Saturday Update

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a news conference at 3 p.m. on Saturday to release information about the abduction of Allie Broadaway.

10 News will be streaming that news conference live on WSLS 10, our website, our Facebook page and our app.


ORIGINAL STORY

Virginia State Police issued an Amber Alert after a child abduction authorities say happened Friday afternoon.

12-year-old Allie Michele Broadaway is believed to be in extreme danger and was reported missing by her family at about 1:45 p.m. Friday at 2373 Reed Creek Drive in Bassett.

Allie is about 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs around 107 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a gray James Madison University sweatshirt and dark-colored fleece pants.

Authorities believe she was abducted by a 21-year-old man from Texas, Kaleb Christopher Merritt.

Merritt is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 250 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

Police believe he’s possibly driving a 2000 light green Mercury Grand Marquis with Texas plate DMP-2294.

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Kaleb Merritt

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Southwestern Virginia Internet Crimes against Children Task Force on Thursday about a complaint regarding social media messages exchanged between Broadaway and Merritt.

Investigators discovered that Merritt has been frequenting a 24-hour fitness facility located on Greensboro Road where they were able to locate him and seize his electronic device for forensic analysis.

Through further investigation, authorities found that Merritt and Allie met in December 2020 on Instagram where they communicated until Merrit traveled to Virginia in early February 2021 to meet her.

Authorities discovered that Merritt set up a camp in a wooded area behind her home and met with her on several occasions before he used a messaging app to tell her to leave her home.

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said with what they knew Thursday, they weren’t allowed to arrest Merritt.

“We checked. We pushed every avenue there was, but there just wasn’t probable cause at that time,” said Perry. “We’re just trying to safeguard against everything we can.”

Below is an interview 10 News reporter Shayne Dwyer did with Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry late Friday night about Allie’s abduction:

Shayne Dwyer talks with Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry about the Amber Alert issued Friday night.
Shayne Dwyer talks with Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry about the Amber Alert issued Friday night.

Authorities believe that after being coerced to leave her home, she was picked up by Merritt and hasn’t been seen since.

Perry said that while Allie may have willingly gone with Merritt, she is still a minor, so authorities are treating this as a child abduction case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751.


About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.