5-Year-Old Popular Bluff Girl Survives Horrible 1-Day Ordeal With The Abductor

Police in Popular Bluff, Mo. confirm the search for a five-year-old kidnap victim and her abductor is finally over.

According to police, Jeffery Shelton, 46, of Popular Bluff was taken into custody in Southern Butler County, near intersections Highway 160 and Highway 67. With him, was his victim, Abigail Bertholf, who was reported missing by her mother around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.

A Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy spotted Shelton’s vehicle – the one police had been looking for – and stopped Shelton, who didn’t try fleeing and was arrested without incident. Abigail was sent to the Popular Bluff Regional Medical Center for evaluation. The hospital medical staff said the little girl is okay. Police said Abigail is in rather good spirits and asked for a soda and chicken nuggets.

Shelton is facing four felony charges – domestic assault and child kidnapping.

In a probable cause statement, an unknown woman was at Shelton’s house early Wednesday morning and found Abigail in his home. Shelton allegedly threatened to kill both her and the little girl. He bound her with duct tape and made Abigail expose herself. When the woman escaped, Shelton took off with Abigail.

An Amber Alert was issued for the little girl who police believed was in the company of Shelton.

Investigators say Eva Crawford, Abigail’s mother, saw her daughter around 10 p.m. Tuesday and when she woke up around 6 a.m., her daughter was missing.  The call about Abigail’s abduction came into the police department around 6:50 a.m. She said the last time she saw her daughter, the little girl was sleeping on the couch – although Crawford put her daughter into her bed around 10 p.m.

According to Dave Sutton, Popular Bluff police captain, said Shelton has no relation to the family. Police did not say what led them to believe Shelton was a suspect, saying that he was dangerous and informed the public to let them deal with the situation.

Sutton said officers initially responded to the home because of domestic assault call, with a witness seeing Shelton leaving with Abigail around 6:30 a.m. Police have not said who that witness is.

Family members said police had cut out some of the window screen and took a section of the couch for evidence. According to neighbors, Shelton was always hanging out in the area. One mother confronted him about his close proximity to her children.

Missouri State Highway Patrol said, in 1990, Shelton was arrested in Fort Hood, Texas for a 12-year-old’s kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

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