Brittany and Tina Smith

A Roanoke County Police detective will be honored in Washington this week for leading efforts that led to the safe return of 12-year-old Brittany Smith. News/Talk 960’s Evan Jones has more on this national award — and what led to it.

[audio:|titles=05-16 Welch Award Wrap1-WEB]

Here is the news release:



Extraordinary Efforts by Law Enforcement  in Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia Recognized as a Part of National Missing Children’s Day

Law enforcement officials from five states will be honored for their extraordinary efforts in resolving missing child cases and protecting children from victimization at the 16th Annual Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill.  The event is held each year to commemorate National Missing Children’s day.  It is hosted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Participants Include:

John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted; and Revé Walsh

Actor Tim Kang, CBS “The Mentalist

Ralph Parilla, Chairman of the Board, National Center for Missing &          Exploited Children

Ernie Allen, President and CEO, National Center for Missing &

Exploited Children

2011 National Missing Children’s Award Recipients


Honorees:  Special Agent Walter Wright and Victim Specialist Angela Jackson (New York, NY).

Special Agent Walter Wright and Victim Specialist Angela Jackson from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York, NY will be honored for their work recovering two young boys who were abducted by their father.   The children’s mother contacted local law enforcement for help when the children were not returned after an unsupervised visitation with their father.  The case was eventually assigned to the FBI and an international manhunt ensued. It was determined that the children and their father had boarded a plane to Paris, France, but they were eventually located in Tunisia, Africa. Wright and Jackson were able to locate the father through information that was obtained from documents located in a storage facility and interviews with family members and friends. Wright eventually was able to speak with the father on the telephone, convincing him to return to the United States and face federal charges. With Jackson’s assistance the children and searching mother were reunited at the airport.  The father pleaded guilty to International Parental Kidnapping.


Honoree:  Detective Christopher S. Welch (Roanoke, VA).

Detective Christopher S. Welch with the Roanoke County Police Department will be honored for his work in the recovery of a young girl who was taken from her home in Roanoke and transported to San Francisco, CA following the murder of her mother.  Investigators discovered the 12-year-old girl was missing after her mother’s body was found inside their home.  Welch coordinated the investigation that would ultimately involve more than 80 investigators from multiple local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.  The investigation revealed that the girl was in the company of the boyfriend and that he was preparing to leave the area. An AMBER Alert was issued and the media were asked to assist in the search.  Five days into the investigation the missing girl was recovered after being recognized outside a grocery store in San Francisco, CA by a woman who had seen her story on the news.

2011 National Exploited Children’s Award Recipients


Honorees:  Special Agent Emily Arnold (Philadelphia, PA); Special Agent Pamela Kirschner (Cincinnati, OH); Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Morgan-Kelly (Philadelphia, PA) and Assistant United States Attorney Vineet Gauri (Philadelphia, PA).

Special Agent Emily Arnold of the Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent Pamela Kirschner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Morgan-Kelly and Vineet Gauri of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are being honored for their work for their investigation into a man who was exploiting young boys.  In interviewing victims, investigators discovered that the man would gain access to them through his position at a foundation that sponsored children, often young boys, at fine arts schools throughout the world.  Investigators traveled to foreign countries to interview witnesses and victims and collect evidence.  The man was ultimately arrested in Cyprus and transported back to the United States where he was found guilty of traveling with the intent to engage in sexual acts with a minor and transporting an individual to engage in sexual acts.


Honoree:  Senior Special Agent James Kilpatrick (Pittsburgh, PA).

Senior Special Agent James Kilpatrick from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations in Pittsburgh, PA will be honored for his work on an online international child exploitation case that shut down an online child pornography network.  Named “Operation Goodbye” the investigation by Kilpatrick infiltrated a group of individuals that were utilizing social networking websites to receive and distribute images of child pornography.  Kilpatrick coordinated activities with agents and prosecutors in ten different judicial districts to simultaneously serve search and arrest warrants. Although members of this online group were well versed in online security protocol including encryption, how to delete e-mail account information and how to dissolve the group per any infiltration by a non-member Kilpatrick was able to obtain the necessary information to arrest eight leading members of this international criminal network.  The investigation also led to the arrest of at least 13 additional violators and the identification of over 70 online identities originating in the United States and other parts of the world.


2011 Law Enforcement Excellence Award Recipients


Honorees:  Special Agent Benjamin Walsh (Alexandria, LA); Investigator Toney Edwards (Harrisonburg, LA); Senior Special Agent Janice Mertz (Alexandria, VA) and Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Robert King (Alexandria, LA)

Special Agent Benjamin Walsh and Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Robert King from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Alexandria, VA; Investigator Toney Edwards Of the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office in Harrisonburg, LA and Senior Special Agent Janice Mertz of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Alexandria, VA will be honored for their work on an investigation that lead to the identification of a young girl’s remains and the arrest of her abductor.  Investigators were able to identify the partial skeletal remains of a young girl that was found in rural Louisiana.  The investigation into her disappearance and death focused on a man who was last known to be in the company of the girl and her mother, who was also missing.  Information about the man was distributed to truck stops throughout the country and two days later he was arrested in  Mississippi.  Information provided after his arrest lead to the recovery of the mother’s remains in Arizona.  The man has been indicted federally on charges of kidnapping resulting in the death of the young girl.