DENTON, N.C. — The search for Savannah Childress is over. The Denton teen was found safe by police nearly 800 miles away from her Davidson County home in Lonoke County, Arkansas.
Police and community members came together and worked against the clock to find her.
“The good Lord was looking out for that child for her to be found alive and coming home,” said Tanzy Sierra, who lives in Denton. “Relieved and glad that somebody was able to find her as quick as they did.”
Davidson County sheriff’s deputies began investigating her disappearance on Feb. 11. Authorities said 14-year old Childress was using her school laptop to communicate with 38-year-old William Ice from Pennsylvania.
“If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” said Sierra. “Whether you’re in a small town or a big city, you’ve got to keep an eye on your kids.”
Police officers in Lonoke County, Arkansas, spotted Ice’s SUV at a McDonald’s parking lot around 8 p.m. Saturday night. They said Ice began following orders but then started shooting at them, injuring one of the officers. Ice fled the scene and crashed on an Arkansas highway.
When the vehicle came to a stop, police said Childress got out and was taken into police custody. Ice was found in the vehicle suffering from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators said he was a suspect in several incidents that involve attempting to kidnap or sexually assault children.
“The fact that she was found no matter what at the end of the day is the greatest thing of all,” said William Justus, the president of Reddy Foxx Family and organizer of a search party for Childress. “Watch who you talk to. Watch who your kids talk to.”
Childress family friend Kandi Bremer shared this statement in part with FOX8:
“The family is so grateful for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers that their daughter has received. Just continue to please pray for them all as they try to overcome and heal from everything that has happened.”
Police told FOX8 this is an important reminder to talk with your children about what they may be doing or who they may be communicating with online. Multiple agencies including the FBI are still investigating the case.