Authorities probe alleged abductor after missing teen returns home: ‘It’s now a criminal investigation’

Local News

(WRIC) — The Central Virginia community felt a sense of relief following the news that 14-year-old Isabel Hicks, reported missing for more than a week after her alleged abduction by 33-year-old Bruce Lynch, returned home safely Wednesday.

But questions still linger in the minds of many as the investigation transitions from a missing person’s case to a criminal investigation involving a minor.

“I have a 14-year-old granddaughter and so I would be devastated,” one local told 8News. “Good that actually one made it home safe,” said another.

RELATED: Missing Louisa teen found safe, suspected abductor in custody

The family of Isabel Hicks released a statement Thursday, thanking the community and law enforcement for their efforts in bringing her home.

“We just want to say thank you to any and all law enforcement. Anyone who prayed, that came by, made dinner, donated money, or even drove around looking for Isabel, she is at home. She’s tired and is overwhelmed by everything. We truly appreciate everything that has been done to reunite her with her family in the hardest times of our lives.”

The Family of Isabel Hicks

The search for Hicks and Lynch spanned nine days. It’s why Richmond’s lead FBI agent is not taking for granted the way the search ended.

“It’s not often enough that law enforcement gets to stand at a press conference and announce a successful recovery of a young person who has been missing for an extended period of time, yet here we are,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent Neil Mathison.

RELATED: Arraignment set for alleged abductor after missing Louisa County teen found safe

The criminal investigation in the coming days will involve local, state and federal agencies as authorities try to dissect what led Lynch on the run with 14-year-old Isabel.

Bruce Lynch

As of right now, however, police are mum on what further charges, if any, could be brought against the man they now have in custody.

“It’s now a criminal investigation that involves a juvenile so there’s a new set of rules that actually apply here, so we’re not trying to hide anything from you, but we have to be very, very careful about what we can disclose.”

Still, one question remains on the mind of many who have followed the case since the beginning: was 14-year-old Isabel abducted or did she go with her mother’s ex-boyfriend willingly? 8News posed the question to law enforcement Thursday. They said there were no signs of forced entry into Isabel Hick’s home.

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