Sheriff: Missing girl found after using TikTok hand signals

Posted at 9:23 AM, November 8, 2021 and last updated 7:02 PM, July 7, 2023

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — Law enforcement officials in Kentucky say a 16-year-old girl missing from North Carolina has been found after someone noticed her using a distress signal made popular on TikTok.

James Herbert Brick, 61, Laurel County Correctional Center

According to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, police have charged the driver who had the girl in his car with unlawful imprisonment and possession of material showing a sexual performance by a minor.

Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, the sheriff’s office spokesperson, told The Lexington Herald-Leader on Friday that the girl and the driver were acquainted. The girl initially went with the driver willingly, but at some point got scared.

The sheriff’s office says the girl’s parents reported their daughter missing from Asheville, North Carolina on Tuesday. On Thursday, a separate driver heading south on Interstate 75 called 911 in Laurel County in Kentucky to report that a girl in a silver Toyota car was making distress hand signals he recognized from TikTok as a signal for domestic violence.

Hand gesture used to signal domestic violence at home. (Women’s Funding Network)

Officials say the driver continued following the separate vehicle and giving dispatchers updates. Deputies eventually made a traffic stop to pull over the Toyota. Its driver was later arrested.

A news release says officers found a cellphone with images that allegedly “portrayed a juvenile female in a sexual manner.”

The driver was taken to the Laurel County correctional center on a $10,000 bond.

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