FITCHBURG (CBS) – A 6-year-old girl has been found safely in North Carolina about 18 hours after an Amber Alert was issued in Massachusetts, Massachusetts State Police confirmed.
Police said the Alize Whipple and her mother, Leeanna Wilson, who did not have custody of her, turned up in Shelby, N.C., on Saturday.
Leeanna Wilson was taken into police custody. Whipple was reported to be safe.
Whipple had been last seen on Wednesday in Fitchburg.
A blue 1996 Buick Century that was part of the initial Amber Alert had turned up in Leominster on Friday night.
The investigation included the Fitchburg Police Massachusetts Sate Police Detective Unit attached to the Worcester District Attorney’s Office, state police troopers at the Commonwealth Fusion Center (the state’s law enforcement intelligence center), investigative commanders at Massachusetts State Police Headquarters, and the State Police Amber Alert coordinator, state police spokesman David Procopio said in a prepared statement Saturday night.
On Thursday the Fusion Center began providing investigative and technological support to investigators probing the suspect’s network of family and friends, Procopio said. On Friday night, the Amber Alert was issued after investigators determined the child could be in jeopardy of harm.
Investigators developed leads on an address in South Carolina, then were led to the North Carolina address of the suspect’s relative in the town of Shelby. Finally, after directing sheriff’s deputies to the home in Shelby where the suspect was found Saturday afternoon, police in Massachusetts ensured that proper steps were taken by the sheriff’s office regarding care and custody of the young girl in light of her legal custodial status in Massachusetts, Procopio said.
Col. Timothy Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, issued the following statement Saturday night: “Over the last four days local and state police investigators worked around the clock to bring the search for this young victim and her mother to a successful conclusion. We hope the results of their tireless work is the first step toward a better life for this little girl.”