HENDERSON — Police say an amber alert and some information they got from the State Bureau of Investigation helped them return a teenager to her home and jail a Texas man accused of abducting her.
Henderson Police Chief Marcus Barrow said officers captured Kaleb Merritt, 21, Saturday evening behind the Dabney West shopping center on Dabney Drive next to Interstate 85.
Merritt was held in the Vance County Jail without bond to await extradition to Virginia on a fugitive warrant, Barrow said.
He had been the focus of among other things an FBI “most wanted” advisory alleging that he was involved in the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl from Bassett, Virginia, a community in Henry County, Virginia, near Martinsville in the southern part of that state.
The girl went missing on Feb. 12, and authorities believed she and Merritt met online on a social-media platform, the FBI advisory said. They also believed Merritt, from Spring, Texas, near Houston, traveled to Virginia and camped out behind the girl’s home.
The FBI advisory said federal agents based in Richmond, Virginia, were working with counterparts in the Henry County sheriff’s office and the Virginia state police, and that they believed the girl had been “in extreme danger.”
Barrow said Henderson police received information that the suspect was driving a Mercury Grand Marquis and had a “kidnap and sexual-assault victim” with him.
Richmond television station WTVR reported that Henry County’s sheriff, Lane Perry, told reporters the girl was a runaway. Deputies told reporters she and Merritt had connected via Instagram in December.
Contact Ray Gronberg at email@example.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.