Local News

Mother glad taken girls are safe

Posted September 30, 2009 10:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2009 11:34 p.m. EDT

— The mother of two missing Mooresville sisters who were the subject of an Amber Alert says she is glad her daughters are safe.

“It has been a nightmare. I have been living a nightmare,” mother Janette Hess said.

The girls’ father, Matthew Hess, 40, left a note last Thursday saying he was taking his daughters, Keara, 12, and Sierra, 11, to school. Keara, who is nine months pregnant, was scheduled for a Cesarean section that day, authorities said.

The girls were found safe Wednesday morning on a highway in Smith County, Tenn., after the Ford Explorer described in the Amber Alert was spotted. 

“We used to live in Tennessee,” Janette Hess said of why the trio probably traveled there.

Matthew Hess was arrested, and the girls were taken to a local hospital as a precaution, Lt. Julie Gibson said.

Keara had not yet given birth to her child, she added.

Authorities said they waited several days after the girls’ disappearance to issue the Amber Alert because Matthew Hess is the girls' legal guardian and did not break any laws by taking them. He and Janette Hess were legally separated, but had reunited over the summer and were living together.

Janette Hess also told authorities that the girls had a good relationship with him and that she initially wasn't worried about their safety. But then, as the days passed, she became worried about Keara giving birth.

“We talked with her doctor again late last night and she just felt in her opinion, she was willing to say, her condition was serious and could become critical. So based on that, the Amber Alert was issued,” Gibson said.

Authorities charged Matthew Hess with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child neglect for denying his daughter medical attention, Gibson said.

Matthew Hess was in a Tennessee jail late Wednesday pending extradition to Iredell County.