ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is continuing to thoroughly investigate hundreds of tips it has received nearly a week after 9-year-old Carlie Trent went missing in east Tennessee.
Carlie’s uncle, Gary Simpson, is accused of checking her out of school last Wednesday under false pretenses in Rogersville, Tennessee, about 65 miles northeast of Knoxville.
“He wasn’t truthful with the reason for pulling her out of school,” TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said. “He mentioned to the school ‘she won’t be here tomorrow’ as well, so presumably she was going to be back in school Friday and, as we all know, that did not occur.”
Simpson allegedly withdrew a limited amount of cash from the bank and visited a Walmart before picking the 9-year-old up from school.
Authorities said Simpson purchased a number of things including a plain green t-shirt and black pants for himself, as well as several items for Carlie including, a pair of khaki pants, underwear, a purple and pink nightgown with stars on it and a black and white bikini with brightly colored flowers.
He also bought two bottles of nail polish, a purple one and a green sparkly one, and lip gloss, as well as a pink camping chair and a pink and purple blanket.
Simpson and Carlie were also seen on surveillance together shortly after she was taken at a Save-A-Lot store, the TBI says.
Monday night, the bureau released a video Carlie took of herself talking about her sister and school, noting that at the end of the day, “it’s all about a 9-year-old girl.”
Spokesman DeVine said the TBI has received more than 500 tips since an AMBER Alert was issued last week, but there have not been any credible sightings of the duo.
DeVine noted most of the tips have to do with the white van. He wants to remind people the license plate has the letters “GPS,” and urges anyone to keep that in mind before calling in a tip.
DeVine also had a message for Simpson Monday night and addressed him directly during the press briefing, noting there’s a chance Simpson could be watching.
“There is nothing that has happened that can’t be corrected. Your family is eager to hear from you, and your family is eager and anxious to have Carlie home. We would encourage you, Gary, to bring Carlie home,” DeVine said.
According to DeVine, the two could be in a remote area, and Simpson, a lifelong resident of Rogersville, reportedly purchased camping equipment before taking Carlie.
“We have no specific evidence that she left the state of Tennessee, but we have no specific evidence that she is still in the state of Tennessee,” he said.
He added that the Tennessee Highway Patrol did some isolated air searches over the weekend and will continue to do so on an as needed basis.
“It’s a little bit difficult to take to the air non-stop when you don’t necessarily have some credible information on where these individuals might be,” he explained.
DeVine continued, “We know an entire community, her family, so many people across the state of Tennessee, want this girl home. We don’t want Simpson to escape and we don’t want Carlie to suffer.”
The U.S. Marshals increased their reward to $5,000 for information that helps locate Carlie. Her pediatrician has also added $10,000 to the reward.
She is 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighs roughly 75 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.
Simpson is a 57-year-old white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 157 pounds. He is balding and has brown hair and eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown cap, a dark colored shirt and jeans.
He was also last seen driving a white 2002 Dodge Conversion Van with TN registration 173-GPS. The van has a dark stripe down the middle with light gold running boards and paint is chipping off of the hood. If you see the van, call 911 immediately.
Anyone with information about on Carlie or Trent’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation by calling 1-800-TBI-FIND.