The U.S. Marshals Service — with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and local law enforcement agencies — on Tuesday located a North Carolina mother and daughter who had been missing for five years.
Amber Weber and her daughter, Miracle Smith, were reported missing on Jan. 31, 2017, but were last seen on Dec. 4, 2016, on the 1200 block of Martindale Drive in Fayetteville when Weber was 21 and Smith was just a year old.
1200 block Martindale Dr in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Google Maps)
Authorities found and safely recovered the pair, who were previous victims of abuse, on Tuesday at a home on Lemon Lane in Bunnlevel.
„The culmination of years of following leads and tips resulted in the outcome that we had all hoped for today; the successful recovery of a child who had been missing since December 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service and our investigative partners will not quit, nor be deterred until these children are rescued,“ Michael East, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in a Tuesday statement.
Authorities believe Joe Smith, 59, may be associated with the pair’s disappearance. The ATF charged Smith with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and he was taken into custody on Tuesday.
Officials transported Miracle and „her sibling“ to the Harnett County Department of Social Services for victim assistance, according to a press release.
Miracle Smith. (Fayetteville PD)
„I am so thankful that the individuals were located safely due to the hard work and perseverance of all of the agencies involved,“ Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said in a statement. „This is a testament to the professional working relationship between all of these agencies and I am grateful for them. These types of investigations are very complex and require many hours in the field to bring this case to a positive conclusion.“
Officials recovered „numerous firearms from a convicted felon“ as a result of their investigation, ATF Special Agent in Charge Vince Pallozzi said.
Investigators told WNCN that they discovered Weber and Smith in a trailer on a property that her children’s father’s family owns.
Amber Weber. (Fayetteville PD)
Monty Weber, Amber Weber’s father, told the outlet in a Tuesday interview that before Weber disappeared, she had been living with her sister and suddenly left one night.
„Our daughter [her sister] called and said she took off in the middle of the night,“ he told WNCN. „Didn’t bring clothes or nothing, just grabbed the baby. We figured somebody came and picked her up.“
The outlet previously reported that Weber had received medical treatment at a hospital in Harnett County in February 2018, but her family was unable to get in touch with her at the time.
„We had no way to find out,“ Monty Weber said. „Nobody would talk to us.“