KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man wanted for picking up his 9-year-old niece from school last week under false pretenses has been added to the TBI’s “Most Wanted” list as the search continues for missing Carlie Trent.
Gary Simpson picked Carlie up from school last Wednesday and insinuated to school officials she would also be out of school on May 5.
The two were later seen on surveillance video purchasing around $80 worth groceries, including two loaves of bread, crackers, peanut butter, jelly drinks, paper towels and toilet paper at a Save-A-Lot. That’s the last time either Carlie or Simpson was seen.
Prior to picking the girl up from school, Simpson had purchased camping supplies and clothing for himself and Carlie.
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) May 10, 2016
“This is no innocent camping trip, this is certainly a crime,” TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said.
Simpson is wanted for especially aggravated kidnapping and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
DeVine continued to emphasize during a news conference Thursday that authorities have no credible evidence Simpson was trying to help Carlie.
“We want to send a message. We’ve been talking a lot about this theory – this rumor that’s out there – that perhaps he [Simpson] was trying to help her, but again let me take the opportunity to be abundantly clear, he had no intention to help this girl,” DeVine said.
Authorities said Simpson previously had custody of Carlie and her sister for about a year but at the time of the kidnapping he had no custodial rights.
The TBI has received more than 1,700 tips since an AMBER Alert was issued for Carlie on May 5.
“We know without a shadow of a doubt, that she’s in imminent danger at this very moment and she has been for more than a week,” DeVine said. “When you know the full picture and you know the extent of the danger, you had better believe we want her home.”
He added that anyone who may be harboring Simpson would also be prosecuted to the fullest.
“We don’t have reason to believe that [they’re out of state] but we don’t have reason to believe that they’re not in the Rogersville area,” DeVine said.
Carlie is 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighs roughly 75 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Simpson is a 57-year-old white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 157 pounds. He is balding and has brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown cap, a dark colored shirt and jeans.
He was also last seen driving a white 2002 Dodge Conversion Van with TN registration 173-GPS. The van has a dark stripe down the middle with light gold running boards and paint is chipping off of the hood. If you see the van, call 911 immediately.
“We don’t know him to be armed and dangerous, but we don’t know that he’s not,” DeVine said.
Anyone with information about on Carlie or Trent’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation by calling 1-800-TBI-FIND.
A $40,000 reward is offered for Carlie’s safe return.