DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — The American Children’s Home released a statement after a 15-year-old girl kidnapped from the home in Lexington and later found safe, according to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
American Children’s Home President and CEO Kathy Berrier said in a statement that they are “so happy” that the child was found and is safe.
“The safety of our children is foremost in the protocols and practices at American Children’s Home,” Berrier said.
In the statement, Berrier emphasized that the facility has alarm systems and an internet firewall/filtering system maintained by IT Consultants. Much like Davidson County Schools, the home adds inappropriate sites to the filtering system as soon as they learn of them.
“The proliferation of these sites and predators as well as their ever-changing methods creates an ongoing challenge to keep up,” Berrier said.
When the teenager was abducted on Feb. 16, staff reportedly followed all protocols for when a resident leaves a cottage. Staff searched the cottage and then searched the immediate outdoor area, while telling other cottage staff to be on the lookout.
Staff then called 911 before notifying a Cottage Parent Supervisor who then comes to campus and meets with law enforcement.
“We are continually working to increase the level of security for our campus and will review this protocol for any improvements,” Berrier said. “Our facility is not a locked facility. The locks are on the inside. Our home is just like your own home.”
The full statement from Berrier is included below:
We are so happy that [she] has been found and is safe. The safety of our children is foremost in the protocols and practices at American Children’s Home.
There are multiple layers to our security including, but not limited to: alarm systems and an internet firewall/filtering system on our server which is maintained by our IT Consultants. As stated by Dr. Emily Lipe, superintendent of Davidson County Schools, there are numerous inappropriate sites visited by children on both personal and school-based devices. Just as the school system does, we add those sites to our filtering system just as soon as we learn of them.
In association with law enforcement, the school system, and our IT Consultants; we are proactively searching for inappropriate sites to add to our firewall. In addition, we provide internet safety training for the residents and staff. The proliferation of these sites and predators as well as their ever-changing methods creates an ongoing challenge to keep up.
On the night of February 16, staff followed all protocols involving a resident walking out of a cottage. This includes a search of the cottage, a visual search of the immediate outdoor area as well as contacting other cottage staff to be on the lookout. 911 is then immediately called prior to notification of the Cottage Parent Supervisor who also comes to search campus and meets with Law Enforcement. The county department of Social Services is notified subsequently.
We are continually working to increase the level of security for our campus and will review this protocol for any improvements. Our facility is not a locked facility. The locks are on the inside. Our home is just like your own home.
Kathy C. Berrier
President & CEO
Early reports said that the 15-year-old had left the home with an adult man.
Detectives began searching for the teenager and, with the help of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation, found her on Monday at a motel in Aberdeen.
Detectives learned that Christopher Steele Boles, 36, of Moore County, had picked up the teenager at the American Children’s Home on Feb. 16 after she contacted him using her school-issued laptop.
After finding Carlson, detectives obtained warrants to arrest Boles on one count of abduction of a child and one count of first-degree kidnapping.
Deputies were able to find Boles in Moore County and arrested him.
Boles was also in possession of heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the sheriff’s office.
The suspect was turned over to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and received a $1 million secure bond.
He also received an additional $2,000 secure bond for the drug possession and paraphernalia charges.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. M. Hurd at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office at (336) 242-2105.