A 12-year-old Virginia girl who went missing after her mother was murdered was found alive nearly 3,000 miles away from home on Friday.
The miraculous discovery was made after Brittany Mae Smith and her alleged kidnapper were recognized in a store by a shopper in San Francisco.
Brittany was found unharmed and taken to a shelter, and the man accused in the abduction, Jeffrey Scott Easley, 32, was taken into police custody, authorities said.
Virginia police feared the worst on Monday when they found the body of Brittany’s mother and Easley’s girlfriend, Tina Smith, 41. Brittany was nowhere to be seen.
Brittany and Easley were later spotted on a surveillance video buying a blue tent at a Walmart near Smith’s home in Virginia, possibly on the day of the murder.
Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said Brittany and Easley were in a Safeway store in San Francisco around 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon when a shopper called police after recognizing the duo from reports about their disappearance.
Police would not say if Easley is a suspect in Smith’s death and said the investigation into the slaying is ongoing.
The cause of Smith’s death has not been released, but cops said they consider it a homicide.
Police said they did not know if Brittany was forced on the trip across the country.
"We’re just getting bits and pieces of the facts right now," Lavinder said.
Liz Dyer, Brittany’s grandmother, told The Roanoke Times that she was relieved and ecstatic.
"We’re so glad. We’re bouncing off the walls," she said.
AM 1180 Comment : Easley is originally from DeKalb County, Sand Mountain, Alabama. Authorities in DeKalb, Jackson and Marshall County were put on alert earlier this week when the 12 year old girl went missing that Easly might return to Sand Mountain.