A missing teenage girl from North Carolina was rescued by Kentucky police after she signaled for help using a hand gesture she learned from TikTok that represents violence at home, police said.
The 16-year-old girl from Asheville, North Carolina, was reported missing by her parents last week, according to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky. Two days later, a motorist in Kentucky called 911 to report seeing a girl in distress in a vehicle on the interstate, @CNN reports.
“The complainant was behind the vehicle and noticed a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform ‘TikTok’ to represent violence at home — I need help — domestic violence,” according to a statement made by the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.
The person who called 911 then followed the vehicle for seven miles while relaying information to police, according to CNN affiliate WYMT. Authorities were then able to pull over the car and rescue the teen.
The hand gesture is a one-handed sign someone can use when in distress, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Someone using the signal holds their hand up with their palm facing out, then tucks their thumb into their hand and then closes their fingers to trap their thumb.
Police told WYMT that the teen learned the hand gesture on TikTok.
The suspect originally took the teen from North Carolina to Ohio where he has relatives, according to police. They left Ohio once his relatives found out the teen was a minor and reported missing, police said.
“We don’t know how long coming down the interstate from Ohio that she had been doing this to other motorists hoping that they would notice that she was in distress, but finally someone did recognize,” Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy Gilbert Acciardo told WYMT.
Police arrested the man, identified as 61-year-old James Brick,and charged him with unlawful imprisonment and possession of a matter of sex performance by a minor (over 12 but under 18).
It wasn’t immediately clear how the man abducted the teen or if he had any relationship to her. We’ll keep you posted on any updates.
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