Now, police are charging a local man with her abduction. Tyrone Samuel, 50, was arrested over the weekend and booked in a county jail on one count of kidnapping, according to local reports.
Meanwhile, Smith’s whereabouts remain unknown. Authorities said they are continuing to investigate the case, as her family, her employer, and other area groups are offering thousands of dollars in reward money to anyone with information that might aid detectives.
Police Searching for Ahreal Smith
According to local station WVTR, Smith was last seen at around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, finishing up her shift at the Little Sue convenience store in Heathsville.
Police told the outlet that store surveillance cameras captured the 28-year-old leaving the store at about 9:05 p.m. to start her car. Video also reportedly shows Smith entering another car at 9:18 p.m. before quickly exiting. Authorities said they spoke with the driver of that vehicle, who is not considered a person of interest in the case.
After hopping out of the man’s car, police said, Smith is seen on camera reentering the store, setting the security system and locking up before leaving the building with a bag of trash. Footage shows her round the corner toward the dumpsters in the back, where she disappears from view and never reemerges.
The next morning, sheriff’s deputies told reporters, her Little Sue coworkers arrived to find Smith’s car abandoned in the parking lot, its engine still idling just as she had left it. Smith was nowhere to be found.
State police began working the scene almost immediately. Canine units picked up Smith’s scent and traced her path from the dumpsters in the store’s rear to a nearby road just a few hundred feet away, where the trail suddenly went cold. Here, investigators said they believe she entered a car — or else was forced to do so.
A Ford Crown Victoria sedan with “blacked-out” windows was identified as a “vehicle of interest.”
Tyrone Samuel Faces Abduction Charge
Northumberland County Sheriff Johnny Beauchamp announced on Sunday that 50-year-old Tyrone Samuel was arrested the previous day and charged with Smith’s abduction.
Authorities did not say what evidence led them to file charges against Samuel, who they identified as a Heathsville resident. It’s unclear if he and Smith were acquainted, or if he is the owner of the sedan police believe was connected to her disappearance.
In absence of investigative details, police reiterated that they are continuing to search for the missing 28-year-old and called on the public to assist in tracking her down.
In a follow-up statement, sheriff’s deputies said they’d received an unusual number of calls from would-be vigilantes threatening “persons and property related to the Ahreal Smith investigation.”
“We would ask the public to please understand that each one of these calls for service diverts needed resources from the investigation,” they said. “Our office will release vetted, accurate information as we are able. Any incidents of threats of violence or actual violence will be investigated and prosecuted.”
Ahreal Smith’s family is also asking residents of the rural area to speak up.
“That’s my sister. That’s all I got,” said Lydia Smith. If anybody knows anything, just let her go.”
The missing woman’s family is offering a $2,000 reward for information that helps bring her home, and her employer Little Sue is offering $1,000.
Other Virginia businesses are pitching in, as well. Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success (YESS), Bright Eyes Concession Food Truck, and Ball’s Landscaping have pledged a combined $8,400 for any tipsters with helpful info.
The Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information on Ahreal Smith’s whereabouts to leave a tip at (804) 580-5221. Smith is described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing around 170 pounds. She wears a wig and has tattoos, and was last seen dressed in a black Nike hoodie with jeans and Ugg boots.