The charge against a 61-year-old man accused of holding a 16-year-old girl captive until a driver on a Kentucky interstate noticed her using a distress signal made popular on TikTok has been increased to kidnapping.
Laurel District Judge John Paul Chappell approved a prosecutor’s request Tuesday during a preliminary hearing for James Herbert Brick, of Cherokee, North Carolina, who was originally charged with unlawful imprisonment, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The move came after police testified at the hearing that Brick threatened to kill the girl’s dog if she tried to get away.
The girl’s parents reported their daughter missing from Asheville, North Carolina, last week. Two days later, her hand signal — and the alert driver — enabled Kentucky sheriff’s deputies to stop the car and arrest Brick, authorities said.
The girl also was mouthing “send help,” Lt. Chris Edwards of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office testified and was visibly upset when deputies got to her.
“She was physically shaking, crying,” Edwards said.
The girl left North Carolina with Brick willingly but later began to fear for her safety, Edwards said. Brick was acquainted with her family, he testified.
Police also charged Brick with possession of material portraying a minor in a sexual performance because of an image they saw on his phone, according to a citation.
The judge also increased Brick’s bond from $10,000 to $50,000 and sent the case to a grand jury.
The public defender’s office, which is representing Brick, declined to comment on the case.