POPLAR BLUFF - The Poplar Bluff Police Department believes 45-year-old Jeffrey D. Shelton called to turn himself in hours after he abducted five-year-old Abigail Bertholf. Police chief Danny Whiteley said the alleged abductor called Butler County 9-1-1 between 1 and 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The call helped local authorities track Shelton's whereabouts. Shelton was found with Bertholf around 1:50 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highways 67 and 160, nearly 10 miles South of Poplar Bluff.
Local police officers, the Butler County Sheriff's Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, FBI agents and the United States Marshal Service assisted in the search for the missing girl. The Poplar Bluff Major Case Squad was activated for the first time this year to help maximize search efforts.
Police are unsure of Shelton's motive, but said they believe Shelton may have an acquantaince that lives near Abigail Bertholf's home. Police also believe Shelton had no prior interaction with Bertholf or her family.
Shelton is on Butler County's sex offender list. He was jailed for similar crimes 1990 and was released February 2011.
(Photo credit: Poplar Bluff Police Department)