North Carolina family speaks after 3-year-old found safe in Tennessee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — For the first time, we’re hearing from the family of a three-year-old girl who was found safe in Tennessee after she disappeared from her North Carolina home.

Riley, 3, was taken by her father, Brent Bockes across state lines last week after he allegedly killed his wife, Riley’s mother.

It was an emotional reunion for both deputies and the little girl’s family.

Riley’s sister, grandmother and aunt say there will never be enough thanks for all law enforcement has done for their family.

“We’re very grateful. You kept our little girl safe and you took care of her like one of your own and we will never ever be able to thank yall enough,” said Riley’s sister, Erikka Emmons.

One of those deputies who had been searching for Riley from the beginning was Rutherford County Deputy Denise Smotherman.

“I felt like somebody had to protect her, and I felt like it had to be me and it’s been a joy,” Smotherman said.

Riley’s sister explained the moment she heard the AMBER Alert was canceled.

“It was immediately, ‘thank God, I’m glad she’s safe.’ Now, how can I get her back home,” Emmons said. And that moment she held Riley in her arms once again she said was indescribable. 

“The best feeling in the world. All the nerves left, and I was just at peace finally getting to hold her,” Emmons said.

A team of officers tracked down the father and daughter at a Select Inn in Murfreesboro. That’s when, 50-year-old Brent Bockes was arrested, and Riley was safe at last.

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