Missing East Tennessee 3-year-old girl found safe, grandmother now in custody

Local News

GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – UPDATE: Zella Linklater has been found safe, TBI reports. The missing 3-year-old girl from Greene County was located in the woods, along with her grandmother, Belinda Wilson.

ORIGINAL: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued an Endangered Child Alert for a missing 3-year-old girl from Greene County and charges have been filed against her grandmother.

The TBI says Zella Linklater was last seen Thursday afternoon in the area of Bumblebee Lane in Chuckey, Greene County.

Zella was last seen wearing a red dress and snow boots.

She is 3-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs 50 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information on Zella’s whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Greene County Sheriff’s Department at 423-798-1800.

Zella Linklater (Source: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt said Friday morning officers believe that 3-year-old Zella Linklater was taken by her grandmother.

According to Holt, officers “know that [the grandmother] walked into the woods with [Zella].”

Holt said the woods are located at the Horse Creek area near Cherokee National Forest off of Bumblebee Lane.

Officers first received the call before 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26.

The grandmother had Zella while her parents were out of town, and Zella’s parents were “trying to get the child back,” Holt said.

Per Holt, the parents saw the grandmother driving with the child. When the grandmother noticed the parents were behind her, “she jumps out of the car with the child and takes off into the woods.”

“At this point, we don’t know what state of mind the grandmother is in or where the grandmother went with this child,” Holt said. “She could be in the woods; she could’ve gotten a ride out of here — be somewhere else.”

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office, along with the TBI, continues the search for Zella.

Agencies have used drones in the search for Zella, and the search continues Friday a couple of miles into Cherokee National Forest.

Wilson remains at-large, and Zella is still missing.

If you have seen Wilson or Zella Linklater, call 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Greene County Sheriff’s Office at 423-798-1800.

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