729 leads in abduction case
Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014
A year following the abduction of an 11-year-old girl from her bus stop in Carrollton, the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office says it has followed 729 leads since the Oct. 2 crime.
However, none of them have led to the suspect who grabbed the girl about 8 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 2, drove her throughout Isle of Wight, Suffolk and part of North Carolina, assaulted her and returned her to her bus stop just after noon.
A flood of leads came in the days and weeks following the incident, according to an update press release from the sheriff’s office. Only 24 leads have come since January 2014, and three of those leads still are being actively investigated. The other 21 were closed through interviews with the people of interest, according to the release.
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The girl was forced into a white or gray/silver Chevrolet car, similar to a two-door Chevrolet Cavalier, and driven to a wooded area behind an abandoned house, possibly in North Carolina.
The offender then traveled back to the Isle of Wight area and took the victim to a wooded area on a gravel road called Iron Mine Springs.
New information released this week by the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Department includes that the dashboard of the vehicle has a softball-sized chunk missing in the middle of the dash. It was previously reported as simply having some pieces missing.
In addition, the location of the abduction is newly reported as “located just off of Route 17.” Investigators have not been as specific before.
Sgt. Tommy Potter of the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office said “even the smallest tip” could break the case.
“A lot of people have thought in the back of their mind, ‘Nah, it couldn’t be him,’” Potter said. “If there’s any curiosity, let us eliminate them. Let us go through our process to vet each one of these tips.”
Potter said people should not be afraid of accusing the wrong person. The interview process is very discreet, he noted.
“There’s forensic evidence that will conclusively either rule somebody out or say you’re the person we’ve been looking for,” Potter said.
He also encouraged people calling with a tip to be prepared to give as much information as possible.
The sheriff’s office is bringing the case back to people’s attention a year later because “we want to solve this case,” he said.
The sheriff’s office also wants people to be diligent when sending children to bus stops or anywhere by themselves. People want to think it wouldn’t happen in their community, but “We didn’t think it would happen in Carrollton either,” he said.
The victim was able to provide a vivid description of her attacker and his vehicle.
The girl said the older white male is of medium build, about 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 175 pounds.
His hair is short and blond, but not a buzz cut, and he wears a thin blond beard containing white whiskers — in a strip from his temples across his chin — and no mustache.
He has bushy blond eyebrows, blue eyes, large full lips, teeth that are slightly yellowed, a wide nose, small hands with short fingers, and freckles covering his entire face and body.
The girl also reported he wore small, round, brown eyeglasses low on his nose, but only wore them some of the time, as well as cut-off blue jean shorts, a tan T-shirt and brown and blue tennis shoes.
She did not see any tattoos or piercings, but that does not mean the suspect has none.
Potter cautioned that people’s appearance can change over the course of a year, but “there’s certain things that can’t be changed,” he said. “Our victim says her attacker was covered in freckles,” Potter said.
He was a nonsmoker, a slow speaker, and his Chevy had Virginia state inspection, black and gray interior, leather or vinyl seats and manual roll-up windows.
She said the car was older inside, Marshall said, with the softball-sized chunk missing from the dash, but the outside of the car was new-looking.
Inside the car were three homemade clay sculptures, he said — one star-shaped and painted with black stripes and the others green and pink, which the girl thought were made by children.