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National center recognizes heroics of two local deputies

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Two of Alamance County’s finest have been hailed as bona fide “heroes” for their part in the recovery of a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped from Davidson County more than a year ago.

Last month, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children presented two of its vaunted Hero Awards to local sheriff’s lieutenants Jaleesa Alston and Zachary “Taylor” Ray for their roles in the safe retrieval of 14-year-old Savannah Grace Childress.

In February of 2021, Alston and Ray had joined law enforcement officials from several states in the search for the teenager and her 38-year-old abductor William Robert Ice.

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Among the contributions of the two Alamance County lieutenants was the discovery that Ice had been in touch with several school children from their own jurisdiction prior to the abduction of Childress on February 11.

The local sheriff’s office was also able to use computer forensic technology to obtain information that helped law enforcement track the suspected kidnapper.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the officials involved in this search, Ice and his victim were eventually located on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas. Following a high-speed chase and an exchange of gunfire, in which one Arkansas state trooper was wounded, Childress managed to give her abductor the slip. She was later returned safely to her home in North Carolina, while Ice died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound during a standoff with Arkansas state troopers.

In recognition for their assistance in this multi-agency manhunt, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children invited Alston and Ray to an awards banquet in Arlington, Virginia on May 25. During this high-profile event, the two lieutenants received kudos from Alamance County’s sheriff Terry Johnson, who had accompanied the pair to the ceremony.

“I am very proud of these two officers for their work in getting this child home,” Johnson declared at the time. “This is a prime example of agencies working together to get these predators off our streets.”

Sheriffs Richie Simmons of Davidson County and Terry Johnson from Alamance County during the presentations at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 

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