Deuties: North Carolina man indicted by grand jury in TikTok hand signal case

The indictment charge is kidnapping, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE: NOV. 19.2021

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – James Brick has been indicted in the Laurel County case involving a teenage girl who did a hand signal from a TikTok meaning “ I need help”.
The indictment charge is kidnapping, according to the Sheriff’s Office.




UPDATE: LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Charges have been increased against a North Carolina man accused of kidnapping a 16-year old girl who investigators say used a hand signal popularized on TikTok to alert a driver along I-75 in laurel county that she needed help.  According to the laurel county sheriff’s office, police staged cars in an area close to where the accused kidnapper’s car was heading, about 9 miles south of where the original call came in. A construction area prevented the car from turning around. Once it came to a complete stop, James Herbert Brick was arrested in London. According to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, the hand gesture is a silent cry for help in circumstances of domestic abuse.

“A women’s group in Canada came up with that signal during the height of the pandemic,” explains Gilbert Acciardo, with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.

From there, the signal got shared and viewed on TikTok, potentially saving the young woman.

“A lot of people have negative connotations for social media and there are negative aspects to that, but what we sometimes forget is the positives of social media and I think it’s absolutely wonderful this girl learned this hand motion,” explains student, Elizabeth Shaf.

“I feel like I need to learn it for myself just in case, especially because it already saved one girl. Who knows what else it could do,” adds student, Lily Wood.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports 61-year old James Brick’s unlawful imprisonment charge was upgraded to kidnapping at today’s court hearing. Deputies say he’s also accused of having a sexually suggestive photo of an underage girl on his phone. The case now heads to a grand jury.

ORIGINAL: LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A teenage girl used symbols and gestures from social media to alert other motorists that she was in trouble, resulting in the arrest of a 61-year-old North Carolina man on kidnapping and child pornography-related charges.

According to Laurel County Sheriff John Root, James Herbert Brick, of Cherokee, N.C., was arrested after Lt, Chris Edwards, Det. Robert Reed and other deputies made a traffic stop at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday on I-75 southbound at Exit 41 to KY 80.

The arrest began when officers were dispatched by Laurel 911 to look for a silver-colored Toyota passenger car that was southbound in the construction area north of London with a passenger making hand gestures known on.the social media platform  “Tik Tok” to represent violence at home – I need help – domestic violence. The motorist who called 911 told dispatchers  the female appeared to be in distress.

The caller continued to follow the car and the male driver, providing Laurel 911 dispatch updates on the vehicle’s location. Laurel deputies set up at exit 41 to wait and the car exited there, leading to the traffic stop, the sheriff said.

The investigators learned the female passenger had been reported missing by her parents Tuesday morning from Asheville, N.C. The girl told deputies she had gotten with Brick and traveled through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and into Ohio where he had relatives, Root said. When Brick’s relatives realized the girl was a minor and reported missing, they left traveling south.

That’s when the girl began attempting to get motorists attention to call 911. During the investigation deputies also located a phone in Brick’s possession that allegedly portrayed a juvenile female in a sexual manner, the sheriff said.

Brick is charged with first-degree unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18 – first offense.

Other agencies assisting on the investigation included: London City Police, Kentucky State Police, social services, Asheville North Carolina Police department, Cherokee North Carolina Police Dept., FBI London Kentucky office, FBI Asheville North Carolina office. Assisting for the Laurel County Sheriff’s office: Laurel County Sheriff John Root, Sgt. Brett Reeves, Detective Bryon Lawson, Detective Taylor McDaniel, Deputy Brent France. Case officers for the Laurel County Sheriff’s office are: Lieut. Chris Edwards, and Detective Robert Reed. Investigation is continuing.

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