DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – Authorities in North Carolina held a news conference Monday detailing the search for an abducted 14-year-old girl who was found by Lonoke police on Saturday night and rescued after a shootout that left one officer injured.
Sheriff Richie Simmons said the teen was found almost 800 miles from where she was abducted from her home in Davidson County on February 11, adding that investigators believe that she was taken out of North Carolina immediately after her abduction.
Investigators said the girl was using a school laptop to communicate with 38-year-old William Ice of Pennsylvania and that 10 other teens in Alamance County, North Carolina, were also contacted by Ice.
Deputies believe Ice targeted middle school-age children through email accounts, Skype and other sites that leave a minimal digital footprint as possible. The sheriff noted that school officials said they had firewalls set to block many of those systems if students were at school but that the protections were not built if students used the devices at home.
Simmons said his department had developed a way to track Ice, and his team directed Lonoke Police Department officers to the area near the McDonalds off of Interstate 40 around 8 p.m. on Saturday night, where the officers spotted Ice’s SUV.
When he was approached, investigators said Ice was initially compliant with officers, but suddenly began shooting at them, injuring Officer Cody Carpenter.
Ice fled the scene but crashed the vehicle shortly after the pursuit began. The teen was found unharmed near the crash scene, but Ice was found with what officers described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He died on Sunday at a local hospital from that wound.
Officer Carpenter remains in the hospital as of Monday and is expected to survive.
Multiple agencies including the FBI are still investigating.