LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (TCD) -- A man stands accused of holding a missing North Carolina teen hostage in Kentucky last week after she reportedly used a "distress signal" that went viral on TikTok.
According to a news release from the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, 61-year-old James Herbert Brick of North Carolina was arrested Nov. 4 at the intersection of I-75 at KY 80. The Sheriff’s Office said a complainant who called 911 was driving behind a silver Toyota and noticed that a female passenger made hand gestures known to signal domestic violence.
The witness reportedly followed the car on I-75 and provided location updates to Laurel 911 dispatchers. The Sheriff’s Office said deputies initiated a traffic stop on the suspect’s car and questioned the occupants. They learned that the 16-year-old female passenger was reported missing by her parents on Nov. 2 from Asheville, North Carolina.
Brick reportedly traveled with the 16-year-old through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and into Ohio, where he reportedly has family. However, according to the Sheriff’s Office, Brick’s family realized that the victim was underage and missing, so Brick left Ohio with the teen. The Sheriff’s Office said the girl tried to get the attention of motorists on the road to call 911.
Brick reportedly had a photo of the girl "in a sexual manner" in his possession that he tried to delete from his phone. He was charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18. He was booked into the Laurel County Correctional Center.
According to WKYT-TV, a detective said the victim was "scared to death" because Brick allegedly threatened to "kill her animals, her pet dog, and himself in front of her" if she tried running away. WKYT reports Brick and the victim knew each other because they lived near each other in a Cherokee, North Carolina, campground.
According to WKYT, Brick was charged with kidnapping in court Tuesday, which raised his bond from $10,000 to $50,000. If bonded out, he will reportedly be under house arrest.
Additional charges are possible, some of which could be imposed by federal authorities.