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U.S. Marshals form Southwest Virginia Missing Child Unit

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 10:36 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Southwest Virginia has formed a missing child unit to help address critically missing child and child abduction cases. The move gives more manpower to some of our smaller hometowns to get the job done.

Right now, there are 333 missing kids in Virginia. The U.S. Marshal’s Office and other local departments have formed a task force that has rescued 30 kids since October. They say these partnerships are crucial to make sure children get home safely.

“We thought we would take that skill set of finding fugitives and use it to find missing children,” Western District of Virginia United States Marshal Thomas Foster said.

It’s an area launched by the Abingdon office of the U.S. Marshal’s Office. The Southwest Virginia Missing Child Unit combines federal, state and local departments, bringing over a dozen resources together when a young person goes missing.

“Being a rural part of the state when something large-scale happens, they have to come together,” Foster said. “I can’t think of really anything more important than bringing our missing children home.”

The group started working together in October but became a defined unit this past week.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office is one of 13 sheriff’s offices that is part of the team.

“It’s not just about our local children; this is about everybody’s children,” Carroll County Sheriff Kevin Kemp said. “We’ll have an investigator that is able to go out and to assist, not only to just our local area, but to assist going out into the farther southwest of the state.”

The group brings resources from all around to help find and resolve the issues that may have led to an escape.

“The moment a child goes missing we can sound the alarm, bring this unit together and go out and find the child,” Foster said.

The task force is hopeful to expand to the greater Roanoke and Charlottesville area soon to make these resources even more readily available across our hometowns.

Member agencies of the unit include:

  • Abingdon Police Department
  • Bristol (VA) Police Department
  • Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office
  • Carroll County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Grayson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Russell County Sheriff’s Office
  • Scott County Sheriff’s Office
  • Smyth County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sullivan County (TN) Sheriff’s Office
  • Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office
  • Virginia State Police
  • Washington County (VA) Sheriff’s Office
  • Wise County Sheriff’s Office
  • Wythe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Highlands Community Services
  • HCS Child Advocacy Center
  • Department of Social Services
  • United States Marshals Service
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • United States Attorney’s Office

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