Police: Missing Carlie Trent in ‘Imminent Danger of Serious Bodily Harm or Death’

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 11, 2016 Updated: May 12, 2016

UPDATE: Carlie Trent has been found alive in Tennessee. See full article here.

See here for updated donation information.

UPDATE 11:50 a.m. on May 12: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has placed Carlie Trent’s uncle, 57-year-old Gary Simpson, on its Top Ten Most Wanted list. They deem him under investigation for “Especially Aggravated Kidnapping.” Simpson has no custodial rights to Carlie, and the TBI believes that Carlie is in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.”

Although 1,200 tips provided to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) have turned up nothing credible, the agency wants to make it clear that Carlie Trent was not taken for a weekend trip, or innocent vacation—she was kidnapped.

An AMBER alert update by the TBI states “authorities have developed specific and credible information which leads law enforcement to believe the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.”

9-year-old Trent, who was taken by her uncle, 57-year-old Gary Simpson—was last seen exactly one week ago—during the afternoon hours on May 4th. She was signed out of her Rogersville, Tenn., school given a false pretense that her father had been in a car accident. The pair, and the van they’re believed to be in, are yet to be found.

Her father, James, believes his brother-in-law was “obsessed” with the girl, according to an interview with Local 8 News.

“Though their whereabouts are currently unknown, investigative efforts suggest they may be out of public view and in an isolated area, such as a campground or park,” the TBI said in their statement. 

Tips have been flying in from nearly 20 states, and the case has gained the attention and aid of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Efforts include: “Ground searches, involving several partner agencies continue, along with air searches by helicopter, performed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol” and will be “ongoing on an ‘as-needed basis’ as part of the overall search effort.”

Just a few days prior to the kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) reported that Gary Simpson shopped at a Walmart store and purchased clothes for himself and a number of items presumed to be for Carlie:

  • Blue and orange striped blanket
  • Khaki pants
  • Pack of underwear
  • Two shades of nail polish (purple and sparkling green)
  • Two shades of lipstick (purple and green)
  • Pink child camp chair
  • Purple child night gown with stars
  • Black and pink and white bikini swimsuit

—Which the TBI also obtained footage of:

Carlie is 4 foot 8 inches tall, weighs 75 lbs with blonde hair and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing a black and grey tank top and blue jeans.

Simpson is a white male, 5 foot 10 inches tall, weighing 157 lbs. He is balding, has brown hair and eyes, and was last seen wearing a brown cap, a dark colored shirt and jeans.

Josh DeVine, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) public information officer, said people need to call 911 immediately if they see the van. It has the registration plates 173-GPS and can be seen below: 

Kidnapping suspect Gary Simpson's 2002 Dodge Conversion Van with Tennessee registration plates 173-GPS. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
Kidnapping suspect Gary Simpson’s 2002 Dodge Conversion Van with Tennessee registration plates 173-GPS. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

REWARD INFORMATION: The United States Marshals Service has offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of Gary Simpson and the safe recovery of Carlie Trent. Additionally, Dr. Chris Calendine, Carlie’s pediatrician, has indicated to TBI he will offer $10,000 in reward money for information leading to Carlie’s safe recovery. Anyone interested in contributing to the reward effort can call (423) 923-9100.