A man suspected of abducting a 14-year-old girl from her home in North Carolina led police in a car chase and has since died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
The 14-year-old was found safe in Arkansas, about 800 miles away from her home, and was taken back to her family, police said in Lonoke, Arkansas.
The case began on February 11, when the suspect, 38-year-old William Ice, allegedly took the teenager from his Denton home in Davidson County after communicating with her through multiple online platforms, the said. Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
At approximately 8 p.m. Saturday, two officers in Lonoke, Arkansas, recognized a pickup truck at a McDonald’s in connection with the kidnapping case, Arkansas State Police said Sunday.
Officers saw two people inside the van and ordered the driver, later identified as Ice, to get out, police said.
When Ice got out of the car, “he pointed a gun at one of the officers and began shooting, seriously wounding the officer,” state police said.
Lonoke’s second officer, who was not hit, returned fire, while Ice returned to the car and fled, police said.
An Arkansas state trooper chased Ice through Lonoke until Ice’s car was damaged in a snow bank, police said.
The 14-year-old girl then fled the car to safety, police said.
Inside the truck, the police found that Ice was injured by what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. Ice later died at a Little Rock, Arkansas hospital, police said.
Wounded Lonoke police officer Cody Carpenter was shot multiple times, but “is expected to make a full recovery,” Lonoke police said.
Authorities determined that Ice was also allegedly speaking to other underage girls in Alamance County, North Carolina, the sheriff’s office said. A search of his home found two names and addresses of 13-year-old boys in Alamance County, Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said. “By interviewing these people and also seizing their school computers, we found … a total of 10 minors who had contact with Mr. Ice,” Johnson said.
Ice, from Mercer County, Pennsylvania, had also been “wanted by Pennsylvania law enforcement authorities in connection with other cases of child predators,” the Arkansas State Police said.
Davidson County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Blake told a news conference on Monday: “We know that Mr. Ice was actively, had been actively accused of crimes against a child. Physical crimes against a child.”
“On top of that, we understand that he had basically been caught in an exploitation operation by law enforcement in that area. He was actively on the run and had court orders when he came here to collect [the 14-year-old girl in Davidson County, North Carolina]”Said Blake.
Authorities said Ice used different email accounts and chat rooms in an attempt to remain anonymous.
“We know of at least two or three other minors in Davidson County,” continued Blake. “Most of them were female and one male in particular. It seems to be a middle school age range that he was specifically targeting.
Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons said Monday that it is difficult to monitor children when they take classes from home during the pandemic.
“Our children need to go back to school. While they are in school, there are firewalls for this. When they take the tablets home, there is nothing,” he said.