The maroon Ford in which authorities think a convicted sex offender was riding with a Hawkins County girl has been located, the TBI announced late Thursday.
The two people, however, remain missing. Authorities also didn’t say where the vehicle had been located.
An AMBER alert was issued this week for Hayleigh Wilson, 14, after she was lase seen at a Walmart in Marion, N.C., on Tuesday morning with Benjamin Shook, 41. Shook has an active warrant for failure to register as a sex offender in Georgia.
Hayleigh willingly left her Surgoinsville home Monday night.
The TBI’s Josh DeVine told 10News via Twitter that the agency was “not yet in a position to disclose” where the vehicle was found. The TBI is working “several leads,” he said.
Family members and authorities believe Hayleigh stole her stepfathers car, along with his wallet that was inside.
“We were hoping she’d run off with one of her little boyfriends, to have a night out on the town, but it didn’t work out that way,” Hayleigh’s father, Eddie Wilson said.
Law enforcement cannot confirm the place where Hayleigh and Shook met up.
Hayleigh’s parents both said they believe their daughter met Shook through a mobile app called Kik, which is an instant messaging application.
“I’m positive if she’d known that this guy was a sex offender, the child that she is, she would’ve never accepted someone like that,” Eddie Wilson said. “These pedophiles have ways of getting into kids’ minds, and just destroying them.”
Family and community members said this behavior is shocking.
“I’ve known Hayleigh for awhile. She seemed like a pretty normal kid, I mean, straight A student,” Surgoinsville Police Chief, James Hammonds.
However, several months ago, Hayleigh’s mother found text messages on her daughters phone from older men.
“I found text messages with older men that I did not think were appropriate,” Stacy Johnston said.
Hayleigh lost phone privileges, but her mom said inappropriate conversations continued on social media.
“Come to find out, as of yesterday, she has created other accounts that we were not aware of,” Johnston said.