ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man who disappeared last week with his 9-year-old niece recently lost custody of her, authorities said Monday.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh Devine told reporters in East Tennessee that Carlie Marie Trent of Rogersville had been placed back into her father's custody so recently that he hadn't yet notified school officials.
Police issued an Amber Alert for Carlie on Thursday, the day after authorities say 57-year-old Gary Simpson signed her out of school under false pretenses.
Officials have said they believe the two are in an "isolated area" such as a campground or a park. Devine said that's because surveillance video shows Simpson purchasing equipment consistent with camping and because the number of tips called in since the Amber Alert was issued is "uncharacteristically low."
There have been no credible sightings since she was reported missing.
Carlie is 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 75 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Simpson is balding, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 157 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. Both are white.
Authorities said they may be in a white van with a Tennessee registration of 173GPS.
Devine urged those who live in East Tennessee to help keep a look out for the pair.
"Law enforcement is a small community. There are plenty of people who live around here, and so if we can extend the reach of law enforcement through the public to be on the lookout for these individuals, that might just give us the information that we need to get this girl home," he said. Devine also encouraged people who own rural pieces of land to go for a drive on their property and look for anything suspicious.
He said both the U.S. Marshal's Service and the TBI have set up command posts in Rogersville to maximize the potential of their work and streamline communications.
Devine said officials are hoping the case is resolved quickly.
"We know an entire community, her family, so many people across the state of Tennessee want this girl home," he said.