By Seamus McGraw
HERNANDO, MS (Crime Library) – For nearly three breathless days,
investigators from an array of state and local agencies scoured the roads
and side streets around Hernando, Mississippi in a desperate search for
Ashley Ivy, a 16-year-old girl, who had, it seemed, been abducted while
shopping for Christmas lights at a store not far from her home.
The local media was alerted and even though the young girl’s
disappearance didn’t meet the state’s stringent criteria for an official
Amber Alert, an unofficial notification went out over the airwaves.
Bonnie Ivy, the girl’s frightened mother gave an emotional interview to a
local television station pleading for her safe return. The woman detailed
how anonymous callers had telephoned her Sunday, more than 24 hours after
the girl’s disappearance and told her ominously that she had been
kidnapped. They said they were holding her for ransom and warned that
they would slit the girl’s throat if their demands were not met.
It was, for both authorities and the young girl’s family, a terrifying
But in the end, it was all for naught. According to John Champion,
district attorney for the five-county 17th District that encompasses
Hernando, Ashley Ivy was found about 10:30 p.m. Monday holed up in a
house in Hernando with several other teens and young adults. At least one
of the people in the house was a friend of Ashley’s, authorities said. A
tip, called in by a citizen who had heard the reports of the missing girl
and spotted her in a local house, led to her recovery, authorities said.
Authorities are still trying to unravel the details of the case, and
Champion declined to say precisely what authorities now believe happened.
“It’s still under investigation and we’re still in the information
But according to law enforcement officials it appears that the teen who
had no criminal history and who had left home only once before without
permission, and then for just one night, had simply run away.
Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to determine who made the
threatening ransom call to Ivy’s mother on Sunday evening.
For now, authorities say, there is no evidence that the teen, who is
expected to face a youth court proceeding for running away, played any
role in the apparent plot to portray her disappearance as a kidnapping.
Instead, authorities suspect that heartless opportunists may have tried
to exploit her family’s fear. As one law enforcement source put it,
authorities believe that “she just basically ran away and some people who
knew that she was gone and didn’t want to go back tried to manipulate the
Authorities are continuing to search for the heartless counterfeit
kidnappers, who could face felony charges if convicted, but so far, they
say, they have not identified them.
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