Abducted NC girl saved by showing TikTok distress signal. Missing girl is reported to have willfully left with her alleged abductor James Herbert Brick before fearing for her life.
The unnamed 16-year-old was at a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in southern Kentucky Thursday afternoon when she made the gesture, according to Fox 8 News. She was a passenger in a Toyota Camry being driven by her apparent abductor.
According to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, the motion — a fist enclosed across the thumb placed in front of the palm — ‘represents violence at home – I need help – domestic violence.’
The gesture originated from the Canadian Women’s Foundation but has spread around the globe. The signal is a hand up, palm out, with the thumb tucked then folding the fingers down.
A driver saw the SOS and called 911, following the Camry vehicle and providing authorities updates on their location.
‘I think she started fearing for her life,’
The older man was later identified as 61-year-old James Herbert Brick of Cherokee, North Carolina, who was reportedly on his way to see relatives in Ohio.
Brick’s phone contained a photo of a girl being portrayed in a sexual manner, police said, according to WAVE3.
He was taken to the Laurel County Correctional Center and charged with unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter showing sex performances by a minor.
The teen had been reported missing by her family on Tuesday. Laurel County Deputy Gilbert Acciardo said she had initially gone willingly with Brick. At some point, though, ‘I think she started fearing for her life,’ Acciardo said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
‘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,’ said Deputy Gilbert Acciardo.
The TikTok SOS gained popularity during pandemic shutdowns as a way for people to indicate they were in unsafe situations at home.
Authorities said the teen girl and her alleged abductor knew each other prior to the alleged abduction. It remained unclear how the older man came to make his acquaintance with the young girl.
Brick was being held at the Laurel County Correctional Center Friday under a $10,000 bond.