Washington – The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) gratefully announces that a 9-1-1 tip led to the safe rescue of critically missing child Hayleigh Wilson, 14, and the arrest of her alleged captor, Benjamin Shook, 41, in Atkins, Virginia, this morning.
At approximately 5 a.m., a citizen called 9-1-1 informing authorities that Shook and the missing Tennessee teen were at her home seeking refuge. Within minutes, Smyth County officers, who are members of the USMS Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force (CARFTF), arrived at the residence and safely rescued Wilson and arrested Shook, a known sexual predator, without incident.
“The safe recovery of Hayleigh Wilson and the apprehension of Benjamin Shook is a testament to the outstanding teamwork of law enforcement and community agencies involved in this 16-day search,” said U.S. Marshals Director Stacia Hylton.
“We are grateful the public paid attention to our wanted posters and notifications. Thanks to a vigilant eyewitness who provided the crucial call to the Smyth County Sheriff’s office, their quick response led to the immediate arrest of Shook. Now, Hayleigh is safe and her alleged captor is behind bars.”
On June 24, witnesses reported seeing the missing teen in the company of Shook in Sugar Grove, Virginia. The search intensified July 2 when U.S. Marshals issued posters of the missing child and wanted sex offender. Virginia news media outlets reported extensively on the pair and provided information for citizens to report leads to law enforcement.
President Obama recently signed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act on May 29, giving the U.S. Marshals Service new authority to assist state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies, upon request, in locating and recovering missing children. This act allows the Marshals Service to immediately support missing child cases. Through partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Marshals have assisted in the recovery of more than 600 missing children since 2003.