WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says a missing 6-year-old girl has been found alive, and a suspect is in custody.
The girl was found alone this morning in a heavily wooded area off River Road about two miles from her home, according to Sheriff Ed McMahon.
“We would first and foremost like to thank God, the police department, sheriff’s department and all the community that went out to search for her in the rain and on their own time,” the child’s family said in a statement released by the sheriff’s office. “Thank you to our neighbors and friends and St. Mary’s church who were praying for her, and any others that were praying for her.”
The sheriff says Douglas Edwards, 46, a sex offender, is in custody charged with first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested in New Hanover County this morning.
“I have a granddaughter that age,” a tearful McMahon said at a news conference this morning. “It’s personal when this happens in our community.”
McMahon said the girl’s family told investigators she is doing well.
District Attorney Ben David said more information will come out when Edwards makes his first appearance in court.
The FBI and Wilmington Police also helped in the investigation. Investigators say the first 24 hours are essential to a case like this.
“I think you can say we beat the odds today,” McMahon said.
Editor’s note: Previous versions of this story included the name of the girl involved, who was the subject of an Amber Alert. Due to the sex crime charges against her alleged abductor, WWAY has decided to remove her name and picture from our stories.