‘Safe and sound’: Stanly County sheriff describes search for teen found in Alabama

Investigators tell Channel 9 a man met a Stanly County teen on social media, drove seven and a half hours to her high school, and picked her up before taking her back to Montgomery, Alabama.

The 16-year-old is safe and the suspect is behind bars less than 34 hours after she was allegedly lured away.

Channel 9’s Hannah Goetz spoke with the Stanly County sheriff about the fast response. Sheriff Crisco said most of the department still hadn’t slept yet after working this case. He said he couldn’t be happier to report that teen is safe with her parents right now.

READ MORE: Missing Stanly County teen found safe in Alabama; man charged with child abduction

“Not just as a sheriff, but a father and a grandfather, complete panic,” Crisco described. “I couldn’t imagine what the parents were going through.”

The Stanly County Sheriff’s Office got word Thursday afternoon that the 16-year-old girl was missing. She was last seen Thursday morning getting into a red car with an unidentified man.

“The mother brought her there, dropped her off for school just like a normal day, and when mother was out of sight, she walked over, got in the car, and left,” Crisco said.

Officers said they identified the man as Duane Howard Bartlett, 39. They told Goetz that Bartlett had been talking to the teen on a social media app before he drove overnight from Alabama to Stanly County.

They said he then drove her seven and a half hours to Montgomery, Alabama. An Amber Alert went out Thursday evening, and within 12 hours, police found the 16-year-old.

ALSO READ: CMPD looking for missing 15-year-old girl

“To know that she was located safe and sound, that’s our main objective -- to find someone as quick as we can and make sure they’re unharmed,” Crisco said.

Bartlett was arrested by Montgomery police and charged with child abduction.

“The biggest thing kids need to understand: There are people out there that are basically trying to get them. That’s their main goal, they are a predator, and they are trying to go after kids,” Crisco said. “And that was this situation.”

Sheriff Crisco credits his team for the girl’s quick recovery.

“The biggest thing I hope residents take away from this -- we are here to give you, the citizens, 150% every day,” he said. “That is our job, is to keep this community safe.”

On Friday, Goetz found court documents detailing false imprisonment and battery charges against a man the sheriff’s office confirms has the same name, date of birth, and social security number as Bartlett. The charges from 2008 and are out of New Mexico. The probation period ended more than 10 years ago.

Bartlett is in jail in Alabama while he waits to be extradited to North Carolina.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Missing Stanly County teen found safe in Alabama; man charged with child abduction)