USA: Cell signal helps police find father accused of parental abduction in Smyth


Father posts about courts, mothers in custody issues on Facebook


Joel D. Long’s cell phone led to his capture Thursday morning at a rest area in the Rockingham County/Harrisonburg area. Law enforcement had been pursuing the 26-year-old Saltville man since about 9:30 Wednesday night.

Smyth County Sheriff Chip Shuler said the incident that resulted in an Amber Alert for a child abduction began at the Southview Apartments parking area. Shuler said Long assaulted the mother of his two children and tried to take both of them but only left with 4-year-old Kimberly Jane Long.

The mother, who lives in Washington County, told sheriff’s deputies she feared Joel Long was armed, said Shuler. That possibility and the assault, the sheriff said, led to the Amber Alert’s declaration: “The child is believed to be in extreme danger.”

For the second time in a week, Shuler lauded the 9-1-1 center’s dispatchers for their work in the case. They coordinated multiple agencies and worked with the phone company to track Joel Long’s cell phone. Tracking the cell signal, the sheriff said, is what ultimately led a Rockingham County deputy to the rest area. A shift change of dispatchers occurred in the middle of the situation, Shuler said, yet work continued seamlessly. “It flowed like honey,” he said.

Earlier in the week dispatchers used cell signals to find a pair of lost children on Pugh Mountain.

The sheriff praised the teamwork of the dispatchers and multiple agencies involved.

Joel Long was arrested without incident and is now facing charges of assault and battery and parental abduction, said Shuler.

Joel Long apparently had custody issues on his mind all day Wednesday. Early that morning, he took to social media to question the fairness of the court system in custody matters.

In the lengthy Facebook post, what he described as a rant, Long wrote, “Sooo many restless nights missing my babies…. I pray one day that men will be viewed the same as women in the court room.… I have never met a single woman that has the ability to respect the position of the father.”

At times the post rambles and a significant portion of it features language that is not appropriate to republish. However, at one point, Long concluded, “I hope this message makes atleast [sic] one female stop and give a father a second thought either it is actually the father in the wrong or not because if your pointing at the father or if he is pointing at you then you are both dumba—s because you need to turn that finger to that ‘gift’ and realize it is not about you or him anymore and yea it might suck for you sometime but if it doesn’t suck for you then who are you looking out for, you, or the babies……”

Just shy of two hours later, Long commented on his post, writing, “For the record just so that this post can not get twisted I’m not speaking of my own issues with the mother of my children… as far as that goes she has always done well by our girls I could never take that from her. Me and her however may have had our differences but what I speak of is just a message for the women of our generation even if it is to only help one guy who deserves the a better opportunity at being a father or maybe even helping a lady to realize she could do better for the father of their children.”

Even late in the afternoon Thursday, Joel Long’s Facebook friends were debating his post and the actions of which he stands accused.

One commenter wrote: “You kidnapped your kid!!!! Bring your baby back!!” And, she tagged the Virginia State Police.

While another poster commented: “He just wants his kid and to be in his kid life…. Joel Long I’m praying for you. ….I mean if it was me and I was told I couldn’t have my kids I’d do sumthing to.” [Sic]

A man took another approach, writing, “There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this….”

A woman who claimed to be a close friend of the child’s mother wrote: “Please watch your words!! She [the mother] has been stressed out more in the past 12 hours then she has ever been in her life, I can’t imagine what she went though….”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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