WARWICK, R.I. (WOOD) — Authorities say a missing Allegan County girl was found in Rhode Island and a 43-year-old man is now in custody.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday afternoon that 15-year-old Gracie Hewartson was discovered in Warwick, Rhode Island — more than 850 miles from her home in Hopkins Township.
Authorities say surveillance was conducted at a location in Warwick. Detectives attempted to make contact with anyone at the residence and Hewartson was located, according to a news release from the Warwick Police Department.
Authorities say Gracie left the state with Charles J. Morancey of Warwick, who she met on social media.
Morancey was arrested in Warwick without incident, police say.
Police say Morancey is expected to be charged with four counts of third-degree sexual assault and being a fugitive from justice.
Her father, Darrin Hewartson, told 24 Hour News 8 the suspect is a “professional predator” who he believes was grooming Gracie.
“Any little predator or pedophile out there, I hope you see this. I hope you know, sooner or later, you will be caught. Someone is going to get you and you will be put in prison for the rest of your days,” he said.
Gracie had been missing since 3:30 p.m. Friday. Her father said she left a note saying she was running away, and the 43-year-old man then drove to their Hopkins Township home and picked her up.
“It’s been five days. only five days and my daughter is coming home. Other parents don’t ever get to see their children again,” Darrin Hewartson said.
While authorities first considered it a runaway case, Gracie was later deemed missing and endangered.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office says Gracie is safe and in the custody of Rhode Island authorities while police work to reunite her with her family.
Her family said Tuesday evening that they had not yet talked to her.
“We are just trying to figure out what is the fastest way to get there to get our daughter home,” Darrin Hewartson said.