US Marshals Find Missing West Virginia Girl 1,600 Miles Away in Texas

August 1, 2019 Updated: August 1, 2019

A child who was allegedly abducted in West Virginia was discovered on Aug. 1 in Texas, according to reports.

Gracelynn June Scritchfield was found at approximately 2:30 p.m. in Pecos, Texas, said the U.S. Marshals.

Arlie Edward Hetrick, 26, was suspected of having abducted Gracelynn, 4, out of Marion County. He was identified as the girl’s father, reported WV News.

“Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Clarksburg office have worked diligently alongside the West Virginia State Police to locate this at-risk child and bring the perpetrator to justice,” said Alex P. Neville Sr. with the U.S. Marshals, reported the Times West Virginian. “We are pleased to announce the child appears to be in good health and has been turned over to child protective services.”

Hetrick was taken to the Reeds County, Texas, jail on a warrant.

Last week, an AMBER Alert was issued for the child, according to the WV News.

Pecos, Texas, is about 1,600 miles away from Marion County, West Virginia. (Google Maps)

“By taking dangerous fugitives off the streets and seizing illegal narcotics and currency, we put an immediate end to their unlawful activities,” said a local U.S. Marshals official told the Times. “This is significant, since many of these fugitives are repeat offenders.”

Other details about the case are not clear.

Pecos, Texas, is about 1,600 miles away from Marion County, West Virginia.

Missing Children

There were 424,066 missing children reported in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2018, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Under federal law, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement they must be entered into the database. In 2017, there were 464,324 entries.

“This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total,” the center notes on its website.

“Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.,” NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) added.

In 2018, the center said it assisted officers and families with the cases of more than 25,000 missing children. In those cases, 92 percent were endangered runaways, and 4 percent were family abductions.

The center said that it participates in the Amber Alert Program, which is a voluntary partnership between numerous entities including broadcasters, transportation agencies, and law enforcement agencies. The Amber Alert Program issues urgent bulletins in the most serious child-abduction cases.

According to the NCMEC, to date, 941 children have been successfully recovered as a result of the Amber Alert Program.

The center notes that of the more than 23,500 runaways reported in 2018, about one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

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