North Carolina mother, young daughter found safely after going missing in 2016

(BUNNLEVEL, N.C.) — A North Carolina mother who went missing with her young daughter in 2016 have been found safe, according to authorities.

Amber Renaye Weber, then 21 years old and her 1-year-old daughter, Miracle Smith, were last seen on Dec. 4, 2016, in Fayetteville, according to the Fayetteville Police Department. They were reported missing on Jan. 31, 2017, but leads in the case eventually went cold, police said.

The pair were found Tuesday in a home in Bunnlevel, North Carolina, about 20 miles north of Fayetteville. In 2018, they were believed to be nearby in Harnett County after Weber received medical treatment there, but her family was not able to contact her, Raleigh-Durham CBS affiliate WNCN reported.

U.S. Marshals, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and deputies from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office found Amber Weber and Miracle Smith at a home on Lemon Lane in Bunnlevel, Raleigh-Durham ABC affiliate WTVD reported. Four firearms were seized from the home, and Joe Smith, 59, was taken into custody, according to the U.S. Marshals. He had previously been arrested on Jan. 19 on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, authorities said.

The case was reignited in 2021 after Fayetteville police investigative assistant Sonia Roldan partnered with the U.S. Marshalls to seek new leads for Weber and Miracle, police said. Information led investigators to believe Weber and Miracle had an association with Smith in Bunnlevel, authorities said.

Police did not disclose the nature of Smith’s relationship with Weber and her daughter.

The search “brought some closure and relief to family and friends of the missing person” as well as removed guns from the hands of a convicted felon, ATF Special Agent in Charge Vince Pallozzi said in a statement.

“The culmination of years of following leads and tips resulted in the outcome that we had all hoped for today; the successful recovery of a child who had been missing since December 2016,” Michael East, U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in a statement. “The U.S. Marshals Service and our investigative partners will not quit, nor be deterred until these children are rescued.”

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