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Henry County abduction solved though investigators say more children may be involved

Victim’s family tells 10 News she is recovering after 36 hours on the run with a 21-year-old man from Texas

Kaleb Merritt is accused of traveling from Texas to Henry County to abduct a 12-year-old girl and is still in jail tonight.
Kaleb Merritt is accused of traveling from Texas to Henry County to abduct a 12-year-old girl and is still in jail tonight.

HENRY COUNTY, VA. – The Texas man accused of traveling to Henry County to abduct a 12-year-old girl remains in jail Monday after law enforcement worked for 36 hours to bring her home.

The Amber Alert ended in Henderson, North Carolina, about an hour north of Raleigh, on Saturday evening.

Capt. Chris Ball, with the Henderson Police Department, said they were called into help when investigators tracked Kaleb Merritt and the girl to their area. With help from the FBI and other agencies, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office was able to track an electronic device to break the case.

“Officers received that information and were in the area within five minutes and were able to locate the vehicle in question,” Ball said. “The street-level patrol officer was able to locate and apprehend this individual who appears to be perhaps a career individual on these types of incidents.”

While 10 News expects to learn more from search warrants and court hearings in the coming days, new details are coming out about Merritt.

In the hours following his capture, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said they were working to determine if Merritt was communicating with more underage girls.

Investigators now believe that Merritt was in communication with at least one other Henry County girl and another department somewhere else in the country is also looking for information about Merritt.

Merritt is described as a serial predator who traveled from Texas to Virginia, setting up camp behind his abduction victim’s home. Perry believed Merritt coerced his victim to go with him, rather than physically removing her from the home.

Although Merritt and his abduction victim had multiple social media contacts prior to the abduction, police were unable to arrest him due to a lack of probable cause. The Henry County Sheriff’s Office seized some electronic devices from Merritt the day before he fled town with the girl.

The victim’s family tells 10 News she continues to receive medical attention and is recovering from the incident.


About the Author:

Shayne Dwyer is an award-winning journalist and a member of the 10 News team since May 2018.