Kidnapping Arrest in Thomasville

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An arrest by Thomasville police has now launched an investigation into a Florida kidnapping. A registered sex offender is now under arrest after an alert store clerk called for help.

Forty-nine-year-old Willie Charles Carpenter, Jr. is being held in the Thomas County Jail. Thomas County deputies arrested Carpenter on assault and drug charges Friday. Now, he is being investigated in a Jacksonville kidnapping case.

Thomasville police responded to a call from the Flash Foods convenience store on U.S. 319 South on Friday night. The call came from the clerk who reported a man beating a teenage girl in the store parking lot.

CAPT Troy Rich of the Thomasville Police Department says, "The clerk intervened and inquired why he was striking her, and he became nervous and decided to get in his car and flee."

After escaping, the girl told the clerk that she had been kidnapped by her attacker in Jacksonville, Florida.

"Thomasville Criminal Investigations Division began to investigate through the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department, if in fact this girl was abducted, and a victim of kidnapping, and we were able to obtain that information, and it was correct, she was."

Willie Charles Carpenter, Jr. was arrested at another convenience store just a few miles south on 319 in Grady County.

Right now, he's charged with assault and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, but kidnapping charges could soon be filed in Jacksonville.

Willie Carpenter, Jr. is a registered sex offender in Florida. According to officials at the Thomas County Jail, he has been denied bail.

Police say it was strictly a coincidence that he was in Thomasville, and that he was just passing through.