A Tennessee man who allegedly abducted his 9-year-old niece for eight days has said that he "doesn't understand" the crime he has been charged with.
In his first court appearance on May 16, Gary Simpson, who reportedly kidnapped his 9-year-old niece Carlie Trent, sparking an eight-day hunt for the pair, responded to questioning that he did not understand why he was being charged with kidnapping, reports the Independent Journal Review.
"From what I understand I’m charged with something her dad’s girlfriend does occasionally,” said Simpson, 58.
On May 4, Simpson, who is Trent's uncle by marriage, picked the girl up from school under the false pretense that her father had been in a serious car accident, reports New York Daily News. Simpson allegedly told Rogersville Elementary School that she would be likely be out of school the following day as well, and drove Carlie away from the school in his white van.
"He may have told her a story that was plausible to her that was easy to believe," said Mark Baughman, a retired law enforcement officer with 35 years of experience investigating similar cases of child abduction, according to WTVR.
Before taking Carlie from school, Simpson allegedly bought items including girl's underwear, makeup and a child's bathing suit.
"When you have an adult male who is buying clothes for a young girl, that’s a suggestion that we’ve got some pathology here, that we have a troubled, sick man," psychologist David Israel told WTVR.
On May 12, four Tennessee men, Donnie Lawson, Stuart Franklin, Larry Hamblen, and Baptist minister Roger Carpenter, spotted Simpson and Carlie 20 miles outside of Rogersville. They held Simpson at gunpoint while waiting for police to arrive.
"It’s really really scary when you don't know what’s going on, I’m just thankful to have her back," said Linda Simpson, Gary's wife. "It's a huge relief."
"He's where he deserves to be," said Linda of her husband, who has been in solitary confinement since he was brought to the Hawkins County Jail. His bail was set at $1 million, and he has been ordered not to contact Carlie or her family.
Source: Independent Journal Review, New York Daily News, WTVR / Photo credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation via New York Daily News