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Update: Bristol kidnapping suspect held without bond

Rain Smith • Updated Jul 26, 2018 at 1:32 PM

Update: 1:30 p.m.:

BLOUNTVILLE — A Sullivan County teen who triggered an Amber Alert after leaving home with a 52-year-old man has been located, while the suspect is now jailed without bond.

On Thursday morning on Weaver Pike in Bristol, the Bristol Tennessee Police Department stopped a Chevrolet Trailblazer containing Grace Galliher, 17, and her alleged abductor, Richard Tester. According to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, media coverage about the duo and their vehicle solicited a citizen tip about their location.

Each was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. According to SCSO Public Information Officer Kristen Quon, Galliher was unharmed.

Police previously reported that on Tuesday, Galliher willingly left her Bristol home with Tester. The families of both reported them missing to the BTPD. The case was then passed to the SCSO, since each lived within its jurisdiction.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Quon declined commenting on many specifics of the case: how the two became acquainted, how long ago, if their relationship was romantic. She did confirm that they had previously met in person.

She added that the incident should serve as a warning to other parents.

“They definitely need to be careful and know what their children are doing at all times, who they are talking with and who they are hanging around,” said Quon.

Police report that although Galliher left with Tester of her own volition, Tester’s charge of aggravated kidnapping is merited. That’s because he is 52 and she is a juvenile he took across state lines, doing so without her parents’ consent.

During the search for their whereabouts, Galliher and Tester were spotted at a hotel in Marion, Va. Quon said it’s currently not known why they returned to Bristol or what their ultimate intentions might have been. Additional charges are pending.

Quon said Galliher was located thanks to the coordinated efforts of multiple agencies, including the Virginia State Police, FBI and U.S. Marshals. Such a quick conclusion is often not the case in Amber Alert searches.

“We’re very fortunate we were able to find them when we did,” said Quon. “All these agencies really chipped in to help us do that.”

A date for Tester’s initial court appearance was not immediately known.

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UPDATE — 9:33 a.m.: According to the Twitter account of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, “Richard Tester and Grace Galliher are in custody!! She is safe. Press release will come shortly.”

Check back with TimesNews.net for more information when it is available. 

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Authorities in Virginia and Tennessee are looking for a Sullivan County girl who left her home with a 52-year-old man on Tuesday.

Early Thursday morning the Virginia State Police announced an Amber Alert was in effect for Grace Galliher, 17, adding that she is believed to be "in extreme danger." The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office previously reported Galliher had left her Bristol residence with Richard Tester, who is now wanted on a warrant for aggravated kidnapping.

The pair are believed to be traveling in a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer with Tennessee plate number B7101V. It was seen at a Bristol Food City, then Tuesday afternoon at a hotel in Marion, Va. According to SCSO Public Information Officer Kristen Quon, the latest possible sighting was in Pulaski, Va., but that had yet to be confirmed.

Tester is 5 feet 9 inches tall, approximately 166 pounds and wears glasses. Grace is 5 feet 9 inches tall with dark black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is urged to call 911.

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