brightcove.createExperiences(); Following her safe return home, 9-year-old Carlie Trent, who had been missing since May 4 after being allegedly kidnapped by her uncle, couldn’t wait to be reunited with her family – especially her little sister and her dog Pat.
According to NBC affiliate 11 Alive the Rogersville girl was seen “playing and giggling” with her younger sister Katie on a trampoline as she returned home after spending the night at a Johnson City hospital.
Her aunt Linda Simpson – married to Gary Simpson, who is charged with aggravated kidnapping for allegedly taking Carlie from school – was waiting for her along with several cousins, the network reports.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn told reporters at a press conference that Carlie was rescued when two Hawkins County residents – identified by TBI officials as Stewart Franklin and Donnie Lawson – were checking property owned by one of them and saw Carlie and her alleged kidnapper, Gary Simpson, 57, deep in the woods off Debord Road.
A TBI spokesperson told PEOPLE that Franklin held Simpson at gunpoint while Lawson called 911. The two were part of a four-member group of men who went searching for the 9-year-old and then split up into pairs, the spokesperson says.
“We are sure that the family of Carlie Trent sends its heartfelt thanks for their actions today,” Gwyn told reporters.
Franklin told WJHL that Carlie was walking around with a teddy bear when he and Lawson found her.
“Every day, walking miles and miles, checking many, many cabins,” Franklin said, recalling the group’s search efforts. “Each one of us has been praying, you know, every day to help us to find this little girl and so finally, you know, answered prayers.”
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At the press conference, Gwyn said, “We had asked all residents to go on their properties to see what they could see,” adding, “This is just two heroes that went on the property to see by chance, ‘Could they be there?’ And they were. I think this is a clear message that we should send to the public – that we’ve got to have your help in these type of cases.”
On May 4, Simpson picked Carlie up from her Rogersville elementary school. Simpson and Carlie did not return home later that afternoon and the following day an Amber Alert was issued in Tennessee.
On Friday, Carlie’s aunt Linda said they’re going to give her some space to recover. “We just have to let Carlie do as she wants too,” she told WCYB. “We’re gonna love her and support her.”