The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) on Wednesday arrested a North Carolina man in connection with the child abduction of his two adoptive children, Keara L. Hess, 12, and her 11-year-old sister, Sierra N. Hess. An Endangered Child Alert had been issued for the sisters by law enforcement authorities after Hess fled North Carolina with the children on Monday, September 28, 2009.
At approximately 8:45 a.m Wednesday, a woman, identified as Laure Pemberton, was traveling West on Interstate 40 in Putnam County, when she observed the Green Ford Explorer described in the Endangered Child Alert out of North Carolina. Ms Pemberton contacted the Tennessee Highway Patrol by mobile phone immediately.
“Thanks to the keen observation of a Tennessee motorist who spotted a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle in the Endangered Child Alert, Tennessee State Troopers were able to locate the two girls and make a traffic stop and arrest,” said THP Colonel Mike Walker. “Paramount to the successful recovery of the sisters was the motorist’s contacting the proper authorities. It serves as a great reminder of the importance of citizen involvement in Amber Alert cases.”
Trooper Mark Jones and Trooper Mitilda Mahaney initiated a traffic stop on the 1993 Green Ford Explorer at approximately 9:07 a.m. on Interstate 40 at the 256 mile marker in Smith County. At the time of the stop, Troopers found Matthew Hess, 40, and his two adoptive daughters in the vehicle. Troopers took Mr. Hess into custody for the North Carolina authorities and he is being held in the Smith County jail awaiting extradition back to North Carolina. Mr. Hess will face charges of Child Abuse and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor out of North Carolina.
Keara and Sierra were taken to Riverview Hospital in Smith County for observation. Both girls are reported in good condition.