WILMINGTON – The New Hanover County District Attorney’s office has identified a 46-year-old New Hanover County man as the prime suspect suspect in the kidnapping of 6-year-old Stefanny Lenneth Lopez-Castro, who was abducted from Carolina Beach Road Wednesday afternoon.
At joint press conference held this morning, officials said the girl was found alive this morning in a heavily wooded area within two miles of her home. According to Sheriff Ed McMahon, the family is reporting the girl is doing well. More information was not available.
The suspect is Douglas Nelson Edwards. Very little information was released about the subject, who is now expected to be in court on Friday on first degree kidnapping charges. Police did say Edwards had been under surveillance all night long, but declined to comment on why he was a suspect or how they located the girl, citing the information would be made available in court.
Likewise, they declined to confirm whether the girl was found tied to a tree, as reported on social media, or whether Edwards is the same Douglas Edwards who is listed as a registered sex offender.
Officials described the results as a case in which “they beat the odds.”
The girl was last seen in a driveway at 5140 Carolina Beach Road, in the Monkey Junction section of the city, at about 4:50 p.m. Wednesday. Police believed she had been abducted and released a description of the possible suspect, who may have been on a moped at the time of the abduction.
The FBI immediately deployed agents to the area, as well as members of the Child Abduction Rapid Response Team, according to the agent in charge, Stanley Meador. He and McMahon credited the cooperative effort of various law enforcement agencies, including Wilmington Police, and the community for that result.
“Thank you for all your help … We could not have done it without everybody working together,” Meador said.
McMahon several times became emotional during the press conference. When asked by reporters, McMahon said he, too, has a 6-year-old granddaughter.
“It’s personal when this is in our community and this kind of stuff doesn’t just happen,” McMahon said. “It should be personal to everybody.”
The District Attorney’s office said Douglas is now due in court Friday, at a time to be determined. More information will be made available at that time.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday afternoon with information about Edward’s expected court appearance. Images of Stefanny have also been removed from Port City Daily stories.