In a collaborative effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies, 14-year-old Scarlett Smith has been safely reunited with her family after an Amber Alert was issued following her disappearance. The teen from Kingsbury, Gonzales County, was reported missing by her grandmother, who informed authorities of Smith's communication with 22-year-old Barry Van Mersbergen before the incident.
San Marcos Police played a crucial role in the case, with detectives and patrol officers recognizing Van Mersbergen from previous interactions and his criminal history, including a prior charge of Evading Arrest in San Marcos. Acting on this information, officers searched for Van Mersbergen east of I-35, near Highway 80. Despite an anonymous tip suggesting his presence at an apartment complex on Linda Drive, initial attempts to locate him were unsuccessful.
Utilizing available data, SMPD officers located the stolen vehicle associated with the suspect and the juvenile at a different apartment complex later on Tuesday. Surveillance efforts led officers to believe they had spotted the two, although confirmation was hindered by darkness. Multiple interviews were conducted with individuals believed to have information, and two tips eventually pinpointed the specific apartment unit where Van Mersbergen was located.
With a search warrant in hand, detectives entered the apartment and successfully apprehended both Smith and Van Mersbergen. Smith was found hiding in a bedroom, while Van Mersbergen, who resisted arrest, was taken into custody. He now faces charges of Harboring a Runaway Child, Resisting Arrest, and Obstruction and has been placed in Hays County Jail.
Smith was taken to a child advocate house in San Marcos before being transported back to Gonzales County for a forensic interview. The San Marcos Police Department expressed pride in supporting the Gonzales County Sheriff's Office and collaborating with the FBI to resolve the case and ensure the safety of the missing teenager.