Local News

Missing 6-year-old Wilmington girl found alive, chained to tree

Posted September 15, 2016 11:11 a.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2018 2:13 p.m. EDT

— A missing 6-year-old Wilmington girl who was the subject of a statewide Amber Alert was found safe and taken to a local hospital, officials with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

The sheriff's office said the girl was in good condition at a local hospital. She was found in the woods just a few miles from her home on Thursday morning. According to WECT News, the child was found chained to a tree.

Dozens of officers and volunteers searched for the girl before she was found at about 10 a.m.

"It was a horrible night for me," the girl's soccer coach Kimberly Crabbe said. "My stomach was in knots all night. I didn't sleep, so the minute it looked like the sun was trying to come up, I got on my feet."

According to authorities, Douglas Edwards, 46, was charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection with the incident.

Edwards, of Wilmington, was convicted of first-degree sex offense with a 6-year-old in 1994, and was released from prison in 2012.

During a news conference, Sheriff Ed McMahon had to fight back tears.

"I have a granddaughter that age," he said. "It's personal when this is our community and this kind of story doesn't normally happen, so this is just very personal. It should be for everybody."

A motive behind the kidnapping, or a connection between Edwards and the girl or her family, was not immediately available.

Anybody with information is asked to call the New Hanover Sheriff's Office at 910-798-4260.

[Editor's note: In a previous version of this story, WRAL identified the victim in this case because she was the subject of a statewide Amber Alert. Due to new information, WRAL has taken the victim's name out of the story because WRAL usually does not identify the victims of sexual crimes.]