Update: Grace Galliher has been found safe. According to the FBI, a driver spotted the suspect’s SUV and called police. An officer conducted a traffic stop, and arrested Richard Tester.
FBI agents have joined the search for a missing teenager from Bristol, Tennessee. Deputies believe 17-year-old Grace Olivia Galliher left her house Tuesday afternoon with a much older man, identified as 52-year-old Richard Tester.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert for her early Wednesday morning after she did not return home. Officials warn Galliher could be in severe danger. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 279-7500 or dial 911.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Grace Galliher and Richard Tester Are Believed to Be in Southeast Virginia and Traveling in a Dark Chevrolet Trailblazer
Grace Galliher left her home Tuesday, July 24th around 4PM. According to the Knoxville division of the FBI, she has since been spotted leaving a motel in Marion, Virginia with 52-year-old Richard Tester. The office did not specific exactly when Galliher was seen there. Marion, Virginia is about 50 miles northeast of Bristol, Tennessee.
Agents believe they are continuing to travel north on I-81 in a black or dark blue 2004 Chevrolet Travelblazer. The vehicle has Tennessee license tags B7101V. A picture of the vehicle is below.
2. An Amber Alert Was Issued in Virginia
The Virginia State police is also actively searching for Grace Galliher and Richard Tester. An Amber Alert was issued across the state. That alert describes Grace as being 5’4″ with black hair and brown eyes. However, the FBI Missing Person Alert lists her height as 5’9″. She weighs about 130 pounds.
The alert also states she was last seen at a motel, but this time in Pulaski, Virginia. Pulaski is another 50 miles northeast of Marion, indicating that Galliher and Tester have continued in the same direction since leaving Tennessee. The motel was off I-81 Exit 98.
3. Information About the Relationship Between Richard Tester and Grace Galliher Has Not Been Released
Richard Tester is 52 years old. According to the missing person alerts, Tester is 5’9″ tall and weighs about 166 pounds. He has brown hair but white facial hair and wears glasses.
Heavy.com spoke with a representative from the FBI Knoxville office. They are not releasing any information about the alleged connection between Galliher and Tester at this time. All they have said is that Grace Galliher is believed to be in serious danger.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has issued a warrant for Tester. He is now wanted for aggravated kidnapping. Dispatch also told Heavy that the investigation into the connection between Galliher and Tester is ongoing.
4. Richard Tester is Wanted for Aggravated Kidnapping
Suspect Richard Tester faces a charge of aggravated kidnapping. The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has issued the warrant for his arrest.
Aggravated kidnapping is false imprisonment and punished as a Class B felony in Tennessee. Under the state law, false imprisonment is committed:
(1) To facilitate the commission of any felony or flight thereafter;
(2) To interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function;
(3) With the intent to inflict serious bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another;
(4) Where the victim suffers bodily injury; or
(5) While the defendant is in possession of a deadly weapon or threatens the use of a deadly weapon.
If convicted of a Class B felony in Tennessee, the punishment is typically 8 to 30 years in prison. Circumstances that can increase the penalty include use of a deadly weapon or sex crimes.
5. More Than 2,000 Children Are Reported Missing in the United States Every Day
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children are reported missing annually. That’s more than 2,000 every day.
According to its website, the non-profit organization assisted law enforcement on more than 27,000 cases in 2017. Of those cases, 91 percent involved endangered runaways. The NCMEC says that one in seven of those runaways were likely the victims of child sex trafficking.
The Polaris project is an organization working to fight human trafficking. In 2017, more than 8,700 cases of alleged human trafficking were reported via their National Human Trafficking Hotline. 80 percent of the identified survivors were girls and women.