12-Year-Old Arizona Girl Found Safe in South Carolina 10 Days After Her Alleged Abduction

The exhaustive search for Betty Taylor ended with relief after authorities located the girl alive with her alleged abductor nearly 2,000 miles from home

betty taylor
Betty Taylor. Photo: graham county sheriffs office/ facebook

For 10 days, residents of Safford, Ariz., have kept their eyes peeled for any sign of 12-year-old Betty Taylor, who vanished from her neighborhood on March 20 after telling her father she was going to take a walk. An exhaustive search for the missing girl began to look hopeless — until Wednesday, when authorities announced that she had been located alive nearly 2,000 miles from home.

Betty was discovered unharmed early Wednesday morning in a Bluffton, S.C., apartment with 23-year-old Timothy Schultheis, whom authorities allege abducted her from Arizona and brought her east.

In a news release, Arizona authorities announced that on Tuesday they uncovered information leading them to believe Schultheis was responsible for kidnapping Betty. They listed him as a wanted person in a national database, which caught the eye of Beaufort County detectives in South Carolina, who promptly obtained search and arrest warrants.

It is not clear what evidence Arizona investigators obtained that pointed them toward Schultheis.

timothy schultheis
Timothy Schultheis. Beaufort County Detention Center

A History of Accusations

Following Wednesday's arrest, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office released a statement revealing that this is not the first time Schultheis has been accused of kidnapping a young girl.

In 2020, he allegedly abducted two sisters, ages 10 and 12, from their South Carolina residence. The sheriff's office alleges that he let the younger sister return home at some point, but kept the older sister at his apartment until authorities eventually located her there. After her rescue, the unidentified 12-year-old reportedly told hospital employees that she had been sexually assaulted by Schultheis, leading to his arrest on a charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

He posted bond and was released the same day of his arrest, according to the sheriff's office.

Three months later, in December of 2020, authorities again apprehended Schultheis after forensic analyses on his electronic devices further incriminated him. That time, he was charged with three counts of sexually exploiting a minor and one count of disseminating obscene material to a person under the age of 18.

After his second arrest, Schultheis again posted bond and was released from jail the next day. As a condition of his bond, he was equipped with an electronic ankle monitor.

On Wednesday morning when Schultheis was arrested for kidnapping Betty, the electronic monitor was still on his ankle, the sheriff's office said.

Schultheis is currently being held as a fugitive in the Beaufort County Detention Center in South Carolina as he awaits extradition to Arizona, where the alleged abduction occurred.

Betty was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and is currently being reunified with her family.

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