Teen's text message helps unravel grisly N. Carolina crime

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2016 5:29 PM

STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A text message to a friend guided rescuers to a teen girl held captive in the North Carolina home where her mother was also slain.

Authorities say Gary Love of Wadsworth, Ohio, held the 14-year-old captive for days and killed her mother in a grisly crime revealed after the girl was rescued Monday.

The Iredell County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Wednesday that authorities were adding counts against him including felony sex offenses with a child, kidnapping and assault on a female. He had already been charged with murder in the mother's death.

The friend who notified authorities, 13-year-old Savannah Evans, tells WSOC-TV that she woke up Monday to see the unsettling text message from her friend. She said that she and her grandmother called deputies to ask for help.

One of the text messages, which Evans showed to WSOC, stated: "call 911 me and my mom need help FAST!!"

The Associated Press is not identifying the girl or her mother because the suspect is accused of sex crimes.

Savannah Evans' mother, Stephanie Evans, told the station that she's shocked by what happened.

"Can't believe this. It is something out of the movies," she said.

After the girl was rescued, the teen sent her friend a message saying she was a "lifesaver."

"That really broke my heart," Stephanie Evans said.

The sheriff's office said in a news release that deputies went to the victims' home about 7:30 a.m. Monday after receiving the call from the friend.

Love told investigators that the mother and daughter were at a funeral but fled out the back door when pressed for more details, according to the sheriff's office. He was arrested soon afterward.

Deputies found the woman's body. The daughter told deputies she had been tied up and held at the home since Christmas Eve, which was the last time she saw her mother. She was treated at a local hospital and is staying with relatives.

Love, 47, has been in North Carolina for about 90 days, according to the sheriff. Authorities say he knew the slain woman from a time when both lived in New York years ago.

The Iredell County Sheriff's Office said that Love faces an outstanding domestic violence arrest warrant from Ohio where that victim also had a protective order against him. Love is being held in North Carolina without bond. It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer.

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This story has been corrected to show the spelling of the suspect's home town is Wadsworth.