(ROANOKE, Va.) -- Virginia police have obtained a felony warrant against 32-year-old Jeffrey Scott Easley in the abduction of 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith.
"We've obtained a felony warrant for abduction for Mr. Easley and we're certainly pursuing him to execute this warrant," Chief of Roanoke County Police Ray Lavinder said at a press conference Wednesday. "Never forget the fact that she's a 12-year-old girl in the company of 32-year-old man, she's at risk and we're very concerned about her safety."
Police first issued an Amber Alert for Brittany on Monday after discovering the body of her 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith.
After an autopsy results, the death was ruled a homicide. Police said that finding Brittany and Easley is key to the murder investigation.
"I think that once we locate Brittany -- and we're concerned about her safety and that's paramount in our objectives here -- once we locate her and Mr. Easley, I think that will open a lot of doors for us in the homicide investigation," Lavinder said.
The chief also said that investigators believe someone may be helping Easley and Brittany.
"I'm almost positive that someone out there knows where Brittany and Mr. Easley are. The weather has been very bad … they need food. Someone, if they are still in this region, is hiding them, I'm certain of that," Lavinder said.
Easley's mother, Sallie Martin, appeared at a police news conference Tuesday to plead with her son to turn himself in.
"From what I know about you and Brittany..." she said, but didn't finish the sentence. She added, "I know you're taking care of Brittany. If you would just take her somewhere and drop her off."
The two were last seen in surveillance video at a Salem, Virginia Walmart on Dec. 3, between 8 and 8:30 p.m. Police aren't sure if the trip to Walmart was made before or after Tina Smith's death.
Police aren't ruling out the possibility that Brittany may have gone willingly with Easley, but they reiterate that she is still in danger.
"We've heard a lot of rumors about a relationship between Mr. Easley and Brittany and I'd like to say this morning is -- what we're dealing with is a 12-year-old girl and she can't make legal decisions. Consent is irrelevant if she wanted to go with him or not go with him," Lavinder said.
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