Alert canceled, Henry County girl safe
Anyone who may have interacted with a Texas man in the last few days is asked to contact authorities.
At a press conference Saturday, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry also asked for anyone with a way to contact Kaleb Christopher Merritt – whether an email address, telephone number or other information – to call authorities.
Merritt, 21, of 1030 Lemm Road, Spring, Texas, is being sought in connection with Friday incident.
An Amber Alert was issued Friday night for Allie Michele Broadaway, 12, of Reed Creek Drive, Bassett.
Perry said Saturday that Broadaway is believed to have left her home willingly.
He also noted a “credible sighting” in Danville had been reported by an off-duty law enforcement officer.
The officer was not aware of the situation when the sighting occurred, Perry said.
He also asked the community pay spacial attention to the photos of the two released by law enforcement, because their appearances are different in the photos.
The incident began to unravel when the Southwestern Virginia Internet Crimes against Children Task Force contacted local authorities after receiving a complaint from a social media messaging application about alleged messages between a 12-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office investigated the messages and identified the girl as Broadaway and the adult Merritt, Perry said.
The messages were concerning, but not illegal, he said.
Perry alleged that Merritt met Broadaway in December 2020 on Instagram, where the two communicated via social media until Merritt allegedly traveled to Virginia in early February.
Merritt allegedly lived out of his vehicle, Perry said, and added that authorities believe Merritt frequented a 24-hour fitness facility, located on Greensboro Road, in Martinsville, for personal hygiene.
Investigators found Merritt inside the fitness facility, and at that time, seized his electronic devices to be forensically analyzed.
Perry alleged the analysis indicated that upon arriving in Henry County, Merritt allegedly set up a camp in a wooded area behind Broadaway’s home and met with her on several occasions. The two also allegedly communicated via a messaging app.
Broadaway was last seen at 2373 Reed Creek Drive, Bassett, around 1:45 p.m. Friday, according to authorities.
She is described as having brown hair and blue eyes in the alert, issued by the Virginia State Police for Henry County authorities. She is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs 107 pounds. When last seen, she was wearing a grey James Madison University sweatshirt and dark-colored fleece pants, according to the alert.
The two may be traveling in a 2000 light green Mercury Grand Marquis, Texas registration DMP-2294, the alert stated.
Perry said Texas may be the intended destination.
Merritt is described as a white man with brown hair and green eyes. He is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. A clothing description was not available for Merritt.
Anyone having information is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751 or Crimestoppers at 63-CRIME (632-7463). The Crimestoppers Program offers rewards of up to $2,500 for information related to crime. The nature of the crime and the substance of the information provided determine the amount of reward paid.
The incident remains under investigation by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and the FBI.
The officer was not aware of the situation when the sighting occurred, Perry said, and noted the Friday sighting was in the right time frame.