Girl Found Safe, Man Charged Following Poplar Bluff Amber Alert

Oct 24, 2012

Updated 5:22 p.m. with charges filed

The Butler County prosecutor charged Jeffrey Dean Shelton of Poplar Bluff on Wednesday with four felonies, including child kidnapping and domestic assault.

The girl and Shelton were found during a traffic stop Wednesday afternoon along a highway about 10 miles south of the child's hometown of Poplar Bluff.

The probable cause statement says a woman went to Shelton's home early Wednesday and saw the child and that Shelton told the woman he was going to have to kill her and the girl.

The woman told authorities that Shelton bound her with duct tape. Police documents indicate the girl was assaulted. The woman escaped, and Shelton fled with the child.

Updated 3:12 p.m. with additional photographs.

Updated 2:38 p.m and 2:56 p.m. with further details.

A 5-year-old girl who was abducted in southeast Missouri has been found safe, and the convicted sex offender suspected of taking her has been arrested.

Danielle Shepard of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says the girl was found Wednesday afternoon in an area near her hometown of Poplar Bluff. Shepard didn't have additional details.

She says the girl appeared OK but was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

The girl's mother reported her missing just before 7 a.m., and a witness saw the suspect with the child near the girl's home. A massive manhunt involved more than three dozen officers.

The suspect is a 45-year-old Poplar Bluff man who was convicted for the 1990 abduction, rape and sodomy of a 12-year-old girl in Fort Hood, Texas.

Will be updated.

Our earlier story: 

The St. Louis division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sent out an Amber Alert today, which is in regard to a missing child, containing the following details:

  • Missing Child: Abigail Elaine Bertholf, 5 years old
  • Abigail was seen with Jeffrey Dean Shelton, a registered sex offender, around 6:30 a.m. today.
  • Shelton was last seen with Abigail driving a silver 2001 Nissan Pathfinder with the Missouri license plate PJ8-Z5M
  • Photos of all involved are included above

The FBI asks in a release that anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Jeffrey Dean Shelton, his vehicle or Abigail Elaine Bertholf please contact:

  • FBI tip line 1-888-265-8639
  • The Poplar Bluff Police Department at 573-785-5776
  • Or your local law enforcement.  

The full text of the information sent from the FBI - St. Louis Division is below:

At 06:58 a.m., 10-24-2012 Poplar Bluff Police Officers were dispatched to 2106 Wood Street regarding a missing juvenile.  Upon arrival officers contacted Eva Crawford, (missing child’s mother), who stated her five year old daughter Abigail Bertholf was missing.  She last seen Abigail asleep on the couch in the living room of her residence.

The Poplar Bluff / Butler County Major Case Squad was activated and responded to the Incident. Command Post was established at the Poplar Bluff Police Department.  Additional assets from the FBI are responding from Cape Girardeau and St. Louis Missouri.

The investigation revealed Jeffrey Dean Shelton; a registered sex offender was seen with Abigail around 06:30 a.m. this morning.  Shelton was last seen with Abigail driving a silver 2001 Nissan Pathfinder bearing Missouri license plate PJ8-Z5M.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Jeffrey Dean Shelton, his vehicle or Abigail Elaine Bertholf please contact the FBI tip line 1-888-265-8639, The Poplar Bluff Police Department at 573-785-5776 or your local law enforcement.