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Missing N.C. juvenile rescued in Laurel Co. after using TikTok hand gesture to signal for help



A hand gesture that signals a need for help, which has circulated on TikTok, helped rescue a missing North Carolina female in Laurel County on Thursday.

LONDON — The minor female was in a vehicle on I-75 with James Herbert Brick, 61, of Cherokee, North Carolina. A person in a different vehicle noticed the female passenger using the hand gesture that represents domestic violence - holding her hand up with palm facing out, tucking thumb to palm and then folding all four fingers over her thumb.

The person in the other vehicle called 911 and advised that the female appeared to be in distress and that the silver colored Toyota passenger car was being driven by a male, according to a Laurel County Sheriff’s Office press release.

The 911 caller followed the vehicle as it exited the interstate at Exit 41 in London where law enforcement was already set up ready to observe the vehicle along I-75. Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop where they learned the female passenger was a reported missing juvenile, reported as missing from Asheville, North Carolina, on Tuesday morning by her parents.

The female juvenile told Sheriff's investigators that she had gotten with Brick and traveled through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and into Ohio where he had relatives. The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said that the juvenile reported that once the relatives realized she was under age and reported as missing, Brick and she left Ohio traveling southbound. The female juvenile then began attempting to get motorists attention to call 911.

Brick was arrested at 12:33 p.m. and lodged in the Laurel County Correctional Center.

Brick was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment. Laurel County Sheriff’s Office also reported deputies found a phone in Brick’s possession that portrayed a juvenile female in a sexual manner so he was also charged with possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18 – first offense.

Other agencies assisting on the investigation included: London City Police, Kentucky State Police, social services, Asheville (North Carolina) Police Department, Cherokee (North Carolina) Police Department, FBI London Kentucky office, FBI Asheville North Carolina office. Assisting for the Laurel County Sheriff's office: Laurel County Sheriff John Root, Sgt. Brett Reeves, Detective Bryon Lawson, Detective Taylor McDaniel, Deputy Brent France. Case officers for the Laurel County Sheriff's office are: Lieut. Chris Edwards, and Detective Robert Reed. Investigation is continuing.

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