POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Police have located a young girl who was apparently abducted from her Poplar Bluff home by a convicted sex offender Wednesday morning.
Police said Abigail Berthoff, 5, was found in Jeffrey Shelton’s vehicle during a traffic stop near Highway 67 and Highway 160 shortly before 2 p.m.. She appeared to be unhurt, but was taken to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center as a precaution, according to police.
Family members who responded to the hospital were seen embracing each other in relief.
Shelton, a convicted sex offender, was transported to the Poplar Bluff Police Station.
Authorities said a warrant for kidnapping was pending against Shelton. More charges were expected to be filed later Wednesday afternoon.
Berthoff was initially reported missing from her home in the 2100 block of Wood Street around 6:50 a.m. Police said Berthoff’s mother, Eva Crawford said she last saw her daughter sleeping on the couch in their living room around 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
Police said Abigail had last been seen with Shelton, 46. A person who knows Shelton saw the two together. When asked if the two had ever been seen together before, the witness said, “no.”
Police said Shelton was driving a silver 2001 Nissan Pathfinder.
According to the Missouri Sex Offender Registry, Shelton was convicted in Fort Hood, Texas in 1989 for sodomizing a 6-year-old girl. In 1990, he was convicted for kidnapping, sodomizing and raping a 12-year-old girl. He was also convicted in Texas that same year for attempting to kidnap a 13-year-old girl.
Most recently, Shelton was wanted by the Butler County Sheriff’s Department for abduction and assault.
The Poplar Bluff, Butler County Major Case Squad and federal authorities from Cape Girardeau and St. Louis investigated the case.