SOUTHSIDE, W.Va. — A Southside man has been accused of obstructing the investigation into the disappearance of a 7-year old girl who was found unharmed last week.
Delbert L. Townsend, 42, of Jeffers Ridge Road, was arrested Friday by the Mason County Sheriff’s Department and charged with obstructing. His bond was set at $1,000 in Mason County Magistrate Court for the misdemeanor charge and he was transported to the Western Regional Jail, where he was later released.
Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers said Townsend was not involved in the child’s disappearance, but was arrested for allegedly giving deputies false information during the search for 7-year old Deliah Clark. Powers said Townsend, who lives in the vicinity of where Clark also lives and went missing, told law enforcement he had seen a maroon Toyota or Hyundai in the neighborhood at the time the child disappeared. Powers said this information turned out to be false and though it didn’t slow down the search for the child, the alleged misinformation wasted the resources of those working on the BOLO (Be on the Lookout) and officers searching for a vehicle matching that description.
“This tied them (the officers and dispatchers) up when they could’ve been doing other things,” Powers said.
Townsend’s alleged behavior did not change the outcome of the case but in some instances, providing law enforcement with false information can obviously do just that, Powers said, stressing that for several hours, this was the case of a missing child.
Clark’s story has not wavered, or changed, or has anything to do with Townsend, Powers said. The child told a forensic interviewer specifically trained to deal with children that she chased after a dog who went running into the woods Tuesday night, apparently got lost and fell asleep, according to the sheriff’s department. She was also later examined at a local hospital and found to be unharmed, Powers added.
Powers said the motive for Townsend’s alleged obstruction was not known.
On Tuesday evening, Clark, who lives on Jeffers Ridge Road, went missing, reportedly leaving her family’s home with her two dogs to see her great-grandfather who lives nearby. Her great-grandfather reported she did visit and left but never returned home. After a search lasting all night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning, Clark emerged with her two dogs, spotted by a member of the sheriff’s department walking on Jeffers Ridge Road.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.