Abducted teen rescued after flashing TikTok hand gesture to passing driver

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


A missing North Carolina teen was reportedly rescued from her abductor Thursday after making a distress signal widely seen on TikTok to a passing driver, who then alerted authorities.

The 16-year-old victim was located in Kentucky by Laurel County Sheriff’s Office investigators after a 911 caller reported seeing a female passenger flash a two-part hand gesture used to signal domestic violence and abuse that has been circulating on the social media platform. With the caller’s help, investigators were able to locate the vehicle in which the teen was being held. The driver, 61-year-old Herbert Brick, was arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment and possession of child pornography.

The victim’s parents first reported her missing on Nov. 2. According to investigators, Brick drove the girl to a relative’s home in Ohio but fled when family members expressed concern about her age and eventually learned that she had been reported as missing. 

According to officials, the 911 caller who reported seeing the victim using a hand gesture indicating “domestic violence” and “help needed” told dispatchers that she appeared to be in distress and noted that she was being driven by a male. The caller then proceeded to follow Brick’s vehicle while providing dispatchers with updates on its whereabouts until investigators were able to conduct a traffic stop of the vehicle on a highway exit. Brick is currently detained at the Laurel County Correctional Center as the investigation continues. 

The two-part hand signal said to have been used by the teen was developed by the Canadian Women’s Foundation as a means of helping victims of domestic violence or abuse alert others that they are in need of assistance. The signal first made its appearance in June of 2020 amid rising reports of domestic violence incidents during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. A TikTok video post produced by the foundation demonstrates how to use the signal, beginning with an outward-facing open hand with the thumb positioned across the palm followed by folding the fingers over the thumb in a fist. The post has been viewed by over 3.6 million TikTok users with more than 132,000 shares.