What seemed like any other Tuesday night for Arnold and Emily Campbell, turned into a nightmare in the blink of an eye.
Emily was playing outside with her neighbors, and her father called out for her to come inside for dinner.
“I realized, it’s been like 8 or 10 minutes and she’s still not here, so I thought ‘wait a minute. She should already be here’ So I come outside and I yell, and I couldn’t see her. So I jumped in my car and just thought she got distracted,” said her father, Arnold Campbell.”
“We saw him doing laps around the trailer park, and we all were like okay let’s go help and find Emily. Then we saw a deputy sheriff pull in, and we saw him pull up to Arnold’s house, so we all ride over and pull up behind the deputy. He didn’t speak to any of us. He made Arnold follow him to the police station because he had Emily in the back of the cruiser, and they arrested Arnold,” a neighbor, Francesca Blankenship, told us.
They charged him with Child Neglect, a felony, and took Emily away from him, giving her grandmother custody.
“I tried to explain to him that she’s just a little girl and got away for 2 minutes,” explained Arnold.
Emily had biked to the convenience store, just down the block, before going home that night. A Raleigh County Deputy Sheriff happened to be at the store and saw her alone, and took her with him back to her house.
“Could you imagine what that little baby was feeling in the back of that cop car? Can you imagine what she’s feeling now, wondering if she’ll ever see daddy again? This is ridiculous. They’re charging this man, and he didn’t do nothing wrong. He didn’t do nothing any different than any other parent would’ve done,” continued Francesca.
Surveillance cameras from the trailer park show it all unfold, which happened only in the matter of 19 minutes, and the footage is being used in the investigation.
“It could happen to anybody. I’ve reviewed everything I did, and I can’t think of nothing I could’ve done better. I don’t know what else I could’ve done. I was moving as fast as I could move. Looking as hard as I know how to look,” concluded Arnold.
The deputy who made the arrest would not return our calls to comment.