Abducted 6-Year-Old Girl Found Alive - and Her Alleged Kidnapper Is a Sex Offender
A 6-year-old North Carolina girl who was abducted Wednesday has been found alive, and a suspect has been charged with kidnapping, police said.
Stefanny Lenneth Lopez-Castro, of Wilmington, was allegedly kidnapped by registered sex offender Douglas Edwards, 46, who lives in the area, according to police.
Edwards has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, but police say more charges are likely.
He was convicted of a first-degree sex offense in 1996, according to the registry, and his victim was 6 years old. Edwards was released from prison in 2012, according to the database.
Castro was found in a heavily wooded area just two miles from her home Thursday morning, police said in a press conference. Police refused to comment on reports that the girl was found tied to tree.
New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon was emotional during the press conference, even pausing to hold back tears, saying, “I have a granddaughter that age. It’s personal when it’s in our community and this type of stuff normally doesn’t happen.”
Castro was reportedly kidnapped on Carolina Beach Road Wednesday at about 4:50 p.m., police said. Cops believed she was abducted and released a description of the suspect.
The FBI was quickly called in, as well as the Child Abduction Rapid Response team, and an Amber Alert was issued for Castro, police said. Helicopters and search teams were used to scour the area.
Police also said they had the suspect under surveillance all night and that he was picked up Thursday morning, but no other information was given on how he was captured.
McMahon said authorities were able to "beat the odds" and find Castro because of teamwork between agencies and "people giving them information."
“We could not have done it without everybody working together,” FBI agent Stanley Meador said. “We had a great outcome.”
Castro has been reunited with her family, according to police, and is doing well.
"I understand that this young woman’s family is a family of deep faith and I know that I speak for those in many law enforcement communities and many that we represent in this area to say that our prayers have been answered,” District Attorney Ben David said. “It’s fortunate that this young woman was found alive and is now with her family.”
Edwards is set to appear in court Thursday afternoon, according to officials.