Randall Pruitt, a truck driver and the adoptive father of missing teenager Savannah Pruitt, now stands accused of rape, and authorities say the teenager is safe.
Authorities said in a news conference that the teen was found safe in a residence in Wisconsin and is doing fine. The accusations against Randall Pruitt, which also came down on January 31, 2019, sparked a new round of headlines in the case of the now-found Tennessee 14-year-old.
Savannah Pruitt went missing from her Madisonville, Tennessee home on January 13, 2019. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, launched a major effort to find her, and her family – including Randall – spoke out in the news media. There was talk early on that Savannah might have run away. Indeed, the sheriff now says authorities believe Savannah was trying to escape problems in her home.
“Please share this all over the nation God bless you all!” Randall wrote with one Facebook post he shared about Savannah’s disappearance – before she was located and before his arrest. He also wrote: “We are going to be on the news today with a news conference I encourage everyone to watch may God bless you all!”
“I’ve been in an investigative position with this agency for three years now, and this is the first time we’ve had a missing juvenile go to this level,” Detective Jason Fillyaw with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said during an earlier press conference. “Usually, we locate them within 24 to 48 hours and they’re home safe.” Eventually, that happened, thankfully, but it took several weeks.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Randall Pruitt Is Being Held Without Bond in the County Jail & Authorities Say Savannah Is ‘Safe’
Sheriff Tommy Jones said in a press conference that Savannah is now safe.
“She is safe; she is in custody, and that’s the best outcome for the the situation,” he said in a press conference on January 31. WBIR-TV reported that the rape accusations are related to Savannah’s case but authorities won’t provide additional specifics.
“There’s a possibility of multiple charges with multiple people being involved. That’s all we can say at this time,” said the sheriff, in the press conference. He did not provide additional details nor say where in Wisconsin Savannah was located.
On January 31, 2019, authorities announced that they had charged Savannah’s adoptive father, Randall Pruitt, with rape.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department shared a Facebook post with this statement from the agency: “The Monroe County (TN) Sheriff’s Office has release(d) the following information. Randall Pruitt has been arrested and charged with rape. No other information can be released at this time due to compromising the integrity of the investigation. More details will be released when the investigation is complete.”
The jail’s inmate search page, which you can see above, states that Randall Lee Pruitt, 41, is being held without bond on a charge of rape.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lists Pruitt on its missing children’s page. “Savannah Leigh Pruitt is a missing 14 year old white female, 5’03”, 110lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Savannah was last seen at her residence in Madisonville, TN on January 13, 2019,” the post reads, along with a photo of Pruitt.
“There is no known clothing description. She may have traveled to the Corbin KY area. If you have seen Savannah, please call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 423-442-3911 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.”
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has posted repeatedly on Facebook asking the public to share information about Pruitt. Here’s the full post from the SD:
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) have been working on several leads in locating a missing child. “We are asking for public assistance in finding Savannah Leigh Pruitt,” said Sheriff Tommy Jones. “If anyone has information as to the whereabouts of Miss Pruitt, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 423-442-3911 (423-442-HELP) or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND,” continued Sheriff Jones.
Savannah Leigh Pruitt is a missing 14 year old white female, 5’3”, 110lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Savannah was last seen at her residence in Madisonville, TN on January 13, 2019. There is no known clothing description. She may have traveled to the Corbin KY area. If you have seen Savannah, please call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 423-442-3911 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
2. Randall Pruitt Previously Told the Public Savannah’s Disappearance Was Like Having Your Soul Ripped Out & Describes Himself as a Man Who Fears God
Before he was accused of rape, Randall Pruitt and Savannah’s mother, Christina, appeared at a press conference with law enforcement. “It’s like having your soul ripped out of your body,” Randall Pruitt said at the press conference.
“You can’t think, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you can’t rest — life has just ceased for us since she left.” He appeared alongside Christina Pruitt, Savannah’s mother. WATE-TV reported that Randall and Christina Pruitt finished each other’s sentences as they expressed how much they wanted Savannah to return.
On January 28, Randall wrote on Facebook, “Hello everyone I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for sharing my daughter’s missing poster on your Facebook I can’t explain to how I feel best I can tell you is I feel like I died when she left just the pain didn’t stop sorry to sound so depressed but one of my children are gone and I can’t collect my thoughts and again thank you all God bless you all.”
“We made it on gma!” he wrote on Facebook the day before his arrest.
On his Facebook page, where Savannah’s picture is his profile photo, Randall Pruitt wrote, “I am a man who fears god and is dedicated to Gods purpose for my life!”
He wrote that he “Works at Talbott, Tn” and went to Jefferson County High School. His top post on Facebook is a share from another man that read, “Randall Pruitt and Christina Pruitt, I think that y’all should start a gofundme account to help with all the expenses that are accumulating in your search for Savannah Pruitt. I know that Randall has not been able to work being an over-the-road truck driver and I am sure family and friends are willing to assist. Let us know. God bless.”
3. On Facebook, Savannah Wrote About ‘Loving Parents Who Teach Me Right From Wrong Daily’ & Randall Says Savannah Seemed Happy the Last Time He Saw Her
Savannah’s Facebook page continues almost nothing publicly viewable, except two photos, including a profile picture with a heart around it. It says she lives in Madisonville, Tennessee.
A second page with the same profile picture and name contains this profile blurb: “I’m the daughter of two amazing and loving parents who teach me right from wrong daily luv u guys😆” The cover photo on one of the two pages is a cross.
Other photos on her page say things like “family is everything.” One graphic she shared discusses reading books. She also shared selfies. “You look like the sweet little girl you are. Pretty,” wrote one friend on one of them.
Randall Pruitt told ABC News that nothing seemed wrong the last time he saw Savannah. “We were sitting in the living room, talking,” he told the network. “She was her normal, bubbly self, and happy.”
A friend wrote on a family photo shared by Randall: “…we are so proud of you and your family. I remember you visit in CA when we lived in the ranch. Your dream was to have a family and God has blessed you with one we love you and the family hope to see you next time I am in the area.”
4. Pruitt’s Mother Calls Her ‘Sunshine’ & Says It’s Possible She Ran Away
Christina Pruitt, Savannah’s mother, wrote, “Please help me find my sunshine.” She wrote on January 27, 2019, “Good morning day 13 still no news I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday but I’m starting to see days already passed coming bk on my wall I ask as today is Sunday when you go to church that you say a extra prayer that my baby is found our life has stopped as we known it my sunshine is gone please dont let her poster be a memory or a forgotten prayer please keep praying and shareing for us and Savannah Pruitt.”
Christina Pruitt had not commented on Facebook about the charge against Randall in the moments after news about it broke.
Savannah’s mother and aunt wrote early on that she might have run away. “This is my daughter Savannah Pruitt she is missing she ranway this morning and she took not only her self but my sunshine my rock a piece of my life please help me to find my baby girl and bring her home safe to me she’s 14 and her last ping I found was in ky please bring me my baby girl,” Christina wrote on January 14, 2019.
“Please continue to pray and share. We love and miss her and want her home safe and sound,” wrote one family member, Brittany Pruitt, on Facebook.
“Please please pray for my neice (sic), my brother and sister in law and my other nieces and nephews and the rest of my family,” she wrote. “Savannah Pruitt ran away early this morning and her last pinged location was somewhere in KY. Pray for her safety and strength for the family. Pray for her speedy return. Savannah we love you and miss you. Please come home.”
5. Authorities Say the Teen’s Cell Phone Pinged in Kentucky
According to NBC News, the one clue in the case derived from Pruitt’s cell phone.
Fillyaw said at the press conference Savannah has two cellphones. Those phones “pinged the morning of Jan. 14 near a welcome center in the Corbin, Kentucky, area,” the television network reported, indicating that the location is about 130 miles from her home.
NBC reports that the teen “may have been traveling north to an unknown destination.”