Missing West Virginia girl found safe after Amber Alert; father arrested

Authorities say they believe Gracelynn was taken by her biological father Arlie Hetrick III
Authorities say they believe Gracelynn was taken by her biological father Arlie Hetrick III
Updated: Aug. 2, 2019 at 2:06 PM EDT
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FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WKYT/WSAZ/WHSV) — Over a week after an Amber Alert was issued for a West Virginia girl who was believed to be in extreme danger, U.S. Marshals say she’s been found safe.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Northern District of West Virginia, 4-year-old Gracelynn June Scritchfield was recovered in Pecos, Texas on Thursday afternoon.

According to the Marshals, her biological father, Arlie Edward Hetrick III (aka Trey), was taken into custody on federal and state charges.

Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force found them thanks to a lead sent by investigators in West Virginia.

The Amber Alert was issued on July 22 by West Virginia State Police, who believed the girl to be in extreme danger after Hetrick allegedly took her on an unplanned vacation and never returned.

Her mother told media outlets that Gracelynn was with her biological father for a routine visit from July 13-14, but when she called him half an hour after Gracelynn was supposed to be back home, Arlie told her he had decided to take the girl on a week-long vacation.

The mother said she had not been told about the vacation before that, and Hetrick then said the trip would end on July 19.

But when that week came to an end, he still did not return and neither did the girl. Having not heard back, Gracelynn's mother called police over the weekend of July 21 and on Monday, July 22, West Virginia State Police issued an Amber Alert, saying that they believed the girl was in extreme danger.

Investigators believed Hetrick abducted the girl and took her out-of-state.

Days later, the pair was spotted in Arizona, where an Amber Alert was then issued as well.

The vehicle was spotted at least twice on interstates and at gas stations in Arizona before they were found in Texas on August 1.

"Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Clarksburg office have worked diligently alongside the West Virginia State Police to locate this at risk child and bring the perpetrator to justice. We are pleased to announce the child appears to be in good health and has been turned over to child protective services,” said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for Northern West Virginia Alex P. Neville Sr.

Hetrick will be held at the Reeds County jail in Texas until he can be extradited to West Virginia.

If you have any information on the case, you’re asked to call West Virginia State Police at (304) 627-2300.

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