Virginia police have arrested a man in connection to the disappearance of a 28-year-old shop clerk, who has not been seen since she went to take out the trash after closing up shop last week, authorities said.
Tyrone N. Samuel, age 50, of Heathsville, was arrested and charged with the abduction of Ahreal Smith, whose whereabouts are still unknown, Northumberland County Sheriff Johnny Beauchamp announced on Sunday.
Several local businesses and organizations have pooled together a $9,400 reward for any information leading to her arrest.
Smith was last seen around 9 p.m. on Wednesday at the Claraville Little Sue Store in Heathsville where she works. She was spotted on surveillance footage leaving the store to start her car around 9:05 p.m before returning inside, police said at a press conference.
At 9:18 p.m., she was seen getting in and then getting out of a different car in the parking lot. Police interviewed the driver of the car and have determined he is not a suspect.
After she got out of the car, she walked back inside, set the alarm, locked up and picked up a bag of trash and began walking towards a dumpster located on the side of the store where she could no longer be seen on security cameras.
She has not been seen since. The next morning, police said the day shift clerk found Smith’s car still running in the parking lot. She was last seen wearing black Nike hoodie, blue jeans and brown Ugg boots. She has multiple tattoos.
Beauchamp told reporters that Virginia State Police deployed a K-9 unit to track her scent from the dumpsters. The dogs caught the scent of a trail that led from the store to a nearby road for about 100 yards before losing it.
Officials believe she may have gotten into another vehicle where the dog lost track of her scent. A silver Crown Vick was initially considered suspicious, but by Saturday was no longer deemed a vehicle of interest.
“That’s my sister. That’s all I got. If anybody knows anything, just let her go,” Lydia Smith, Ahreal’s sister, said at the press conference.
“If this was your family, what would you want somebody to do? She pleaded.
Following Samuel’s arrest, Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office has been receiving several calls of threats made against those involved in the investigation.
“Our office is receiving a substantial number of calls regarding threats to persons and property related to the Ahreal Smith investigation,” Beauchamp wrote on Sunday night after the arrest announcement. “Regardless of any intentions, violence or vigilantism will not be tolerated. We would ask the public to please understand that each one of these calls for service diverts needed resources from the investigation. Our office will release vetted, accurate information as we are able.”