Alleged abductor in custody and Isabel Hicks safe at home

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LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (Oct. 31):

Police believe Isabel Hicks, 14, is with Bruce Lunch, 34, of Bumpass, Virginia in a silver blue Toyota Matrix, VA tag VEM-9071. (Source: Louisa County Sheriff's Office)

Virginia State Police said a 14-year-old Louisa County girl was located safely Wednesday night after she went missing Oct. 21, and the AMBER Alert for her was canceled.

An AMBER Alert was issued Friday night for Isabel Shae Hicks, who was with 33-year-old Bruce Lynch Jr., of Bumpass, Virginia. Lynch is Hicks' mother's ex-boyfriend.

At approximately 8:48 p.m. Wednesday, the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office’s emergency dispatch center received a call from a citizen reporting a sighting of the 2003 Toyota Matrix mentioned in the AMBER alert, according to a CCSO statement.

“The vehicle was in the Ladysmith area and was traveling northbound on Rt. 1,” Sheriff’s Tony Lippa, Jr. said.

Deputies were dispatched to the area, where they eventually caught up with the vehicle on Rt. 1 near the intersection of Paige Road.

“The stop occurred with backup from [deputies] and a Virginia State Police trooper as several other Caroline units were arriving on scene,” Lippa said. “The perpetrator was taken into custody by CCSO without incident.”

Lynch and Hicks were positively identified in the vehicle. Hicks was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

“We are so grateful for the concerned citizen who made the call and followed the vehicle until deputies were able to overtake the vehicle and I am so proud of the men and women of our CCSO who made the stop, apprehended the perpetrator, and reunite the missing juvenile with her mother,” Lippa added.

The vehicle was towed to the western part of the county while a deputy followed with Lynch in his custody.

“It’s not often we get to stand here and announce a successful effort of reuniting a victim with their family," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Neil Mathison.

Detectives said Lynch will be arraigned in Louisa County Juvenile and Domestic Relation Court Friday at 9 a.m. A press conference is scheduled for Thursday afternoon with Louisa County investigators and the FBI.

Detective Chuck Love said they're treating the case as a possible abduction case, but there were no signs of forced entry at Hicks' home after her disappearance. In earlier press conferences, law enforcement had said there were no signs that she had been taken forcibly.

Law enforcement had no comment on whether he was armed when arrested.

Hicks’ family released the following statement:

We just want to say thank you to any and all law enforcement, anyone that prayed, came by, made dinner, donated money or even drove around looking for Isabel.’

She is home, tired, and overwhelmed by everything. We truly appreciate everything has been done to reunite our family in the hardest time of our lives.

Investigators said they received several new leads after the teen, who disappeared on Oct. 21, and her mother’s ex-boyfriend were positively identified at a home in Hanover County late Monday.

Wednesday, investigators said they would be moving their resources to other parts of Montpelier and outside of the town due to new information they received. The U.S. Marshals were also involved in the search.

“We still want to keep it as broad as we can," said Louisa County Sheriff’s Office Detective Chuck Love. "We’ve tried to push this out in multiple states, so now that he’s seen the resources that can be pulled together in this short amount of time we’re worried that he may try to leave this area.”

Since Monday, authorities met with dozens of citizens in order to track down Hicks and Lynch who were last seen at a home in Montpelier that night.

More than 200 people helped in the search efforts in Hanover County and detectives said they got over 400 tips that led to Lynch and Hicks being found.

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UPDATE (11:57 p.m.):

Virginia State Police said Isabel Hicks has been located safely and the AMBER Alert has been canceled.

The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said Bruce Lynch Jr. was taken into custody after a vehicle pursuit in Caroline County. Hicks was also inside the vehicle.

Deputies say she was unharmed.

The sheriff's office plans to release more information in a Thursday press conference.

Virginia State Police, the FBI, and local sheriff's offices across Virginia and West Virginia spent the last nine days searching for Hicks and Lynch.

Hicks originally went missing in the early hours of October 21 from her home in Bumpass. Police say she went with Lynch, her mother's ex-boyfriend, and was not taken forcibly. However, Lynch was said to be armed with a handgun and believed to have suicidal tendencies, which led police to issue an AMBER Alert out of concern for Hicks' safety.

This is a developing story. Stay with WHSV for updates.

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A teen missing since Oct. 21 and her mother’s ex-boyfriend were positively identified as the pair that showed up at a home in Hanover County late Monday.

An AMBER Alert was issued Friday night for Isabel Shae Hicks, 14, who is believed to be with 33-year-old Bruce Lynch Jr., of Bumpass, Virginia.

Hicks is believed to be in extreme danger, according to the FBI.

A Hanover County sheriff’s lieutenant said Tuesday that a call for service came in just after 9 p.m. from a resident who says the pair came to a home in the 14000 block of Clazemont Road in Montpelier.

The encounter was only a few seconds, he said, and they did not come into the house, but rather took off into the woods behind the property.

Within minutes, a half-mile perimeter had been established and much of the area was locked down.

“There’s been a very methodical, slow, coordinated search right now in the area surrounding the area where they were last seen," said Hanover Co. Sgt. Steve DiLoreto. "That’s in the upwards to two miles from the original area.”

“The terrain is hard," said Louisa Co. Major Donnie Lowe. "It’s a little hilly at time, but you’re talking about miles of woods and some of them are very dense. They’re going through every inch of them and it can be very tiring.”

Investigators said the description of the pair has also changed – Lynch no longer has a beard and both of them had on dark clothing and/or camo outfits.

“They’ve had a lot of resources out here," Lowe said. "They’ve had fixed wings, helicopters, we’ve had tac teams out here, canine, bloodhound control - all hands on deck out here talking to neighbors and talking to pretty much anyone we can talk to hoping that something will come up that’s beneficial.”

The community is asked to stay vigilant and to check any outdoor cameras and properties for the two. They're specially asking for help from hunters and outdoorsmen who may be out in the woods.

“Our goal remains to bring Isabel and Bruce home safely," Lowe said. “If Bruce and Isabel are listening to this, please, please, please bring her home safely so we can get them the help they need without escalating any kind of events that put them in a dangerous environment.”

Investigators added Tuesday the area where Hicks and Lynch were spotted is familiar to Lynch.

“This has been an area of interest since day one," Lowe said.

At this point in time, the FBI, Virginia State Police, Louisa and Hanover County Sheriff Offices and Henrico County Police are all involved in the search for Hicks and Lynch.

Additional tactical teams from the FBI and Virginia State Police have been brought in from across the state to aid in the search.

“Just frantic, because nothing like this ever happens in Montpelier,” Logan Davidson said.

Those living in the area say they have never seen anything like this.

“All kinds of police vehicles, trucks, cars - you name it and they are here. It’s pretty interesting,” Nick Lawrence said.

Others familiar with the area say it’s swampy and rough, and believe there are plenty of places to hide.

The sheriff’s office believes Hicks and Lynch are traveling in a silver-blue Toyota Matrix, with Virginia license plate tag VEM-9071. Authorities now say Lynch will turn 34-years-old in a couple of weeks and is Hicks' mother's ex-boyfriend. A felony abduction warrant has been obtained for Lynch.

“We ask everyone hearing this to continue being those extra set of eyes,” Love said.

Deputies say they don’t believe that Hicks was taken forcibly. According to deputies, Lynch has suicidal tendencies and has a 9 mm. handgun, however, which is part of the danger posed. He does not have a known criminal record.

Hicks was first believed to be wearing a gray American Eagle Sweatshirt and skinny jeans.

Deputies advise the public to look out for the make and model of the car, because they believe the tags have been switched and could be Virginia tags UXM-3614 or yellow Virginia “Don’t Tread on Me” tags with 2449UT. They also say the right rear door handle is missing.

Citizens should look for tarps inside the car because it is believed Lynch recently bought some. Authorities believe Lynch left with camping gear. The pair is thought to be out camping in the woods.

Several calls have come in from people checking game and camera properties. Authorities urge citizens to remain vigilant.

Authorities say potential leads are being investigated. Although they are not currently looking for any other persons of interest, they are keeping possibilities open.

“Bruce, as parents, let’s appeal to you," FBI Agent Dave Johnson said. "You know Isabel should be home safe with her parents. Warm, rested and protected I’m sure you want what’s best for her. Please return Isabel to a safe location.”

Anyone with information, even if insignificant, on where the teen is should call the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office at 540-967-1234 or Louisa Crime Solvers at 800-346-1466. You can also call the FBI at 804-261-1044 with information.

A Missing Person poster can be found on the FBI website.


On Oct. 30, the FBI released a retouched photograph of Bruce Lynch showing what they believe he looks like without a beard.
New mugshot of Bruce Lynch released on Thurs., Oct. 31