PATRICK COUNTY, Va. — The AMBER Alert issued Tuesday for three-year-old Tommy Lee Able Engle has been cancelled. Engle was found unharmed in Pikeville, Kentucky, according to Patrick Sheriff Dan Smith.
His father, 34-year-old Tommy Lee Travis Engle, was taken into custody. The child was last seen last seen August 4 at his home in Critz, Va.
Investigators in Patrick County were tracking the three-year-old and his dad after they say the dad abducted the boy and hit the road making it all the way to Kentucky.
An AMBER alert was issued but done a whole day after that three year was reported missing by authorities. That emergency text was sent out to cell phone users only in the Southwest Corridor of the state, according to state police.
Many here in Central Virginia may have noticed they never got the alert on their cell phones.
Sgt. Stephan Vick with Virginia State police said they issue the alerts once the investigating agency gives them all the pertinent information.
He explains who decides what the coverage area will be for cell phone users to get the Amber alert.
“If we feel there is a certain area and we can concentrate the cell phone alerts to that certain area of the state, that’s what we do,” Vick said.
“If you are traveling through the state from outside the area and you didn’t get the alert, once you travel through that area where we’ve concentrated the alert, it will automatically come to your phone.”
Vick said the notification process doesn’t end there and that law enforcement alert neighboring jurisdictions and VDOT so the message will flash on electronic highway signs and even on digital lottery signs in convenience stores.
Social media is a also a major tool that has helped bring little ones safely home.
“The Facebook page is updated after an alert. With the last one, we had over 330,000 shares on Facebook, so social media is big,” Vick said. “We use it to get the information out promptly and as quickly as possible.”
Hours after Tuesday’s AMBER Alert was issued, his father reached out to investigators via text. Smith told Virginia State Police the elder Engle contacted him shortly after midnight they communicated up until Tommy Lee Travis Engle was apprehended at about 12:50 p.m.
Engle, who has family in Pikesville, is being held at Pike County Jail.