Missing North Carolina teen located; Texas man and Virginia woman facing felony charges

Published 7:58 am Monday, January 31, 2022

A Texas man and a Virginia woman are facing charges related to an eastern North Carolina teen who was reported missing last week. The teen was later located unharmed by FBI agents and returned home.

According to information released Tuesday, January 25, 2022 by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Mary Alexandra Pagliaro, 15, was reported missing from the 200 block of Duke St. in Belhaven.

A Belhaven Police Department press release posted by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office stated that when the teen was reported missing, BPD officers “immediately began the investigation by, initially, gathering statements, canvassing the area, speaking to school officials, and following up on other leads. In the hours that followed, officers contacted approximately 40 individuals thought to have known the whereabouts of Ms. Pagliaro who was last seen by an acquaintance two blocks from her residence.”

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Pagliaro was listed missing in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, stated BPD. “After hearing about the case, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office volunteered to do a Crime Stoppers reward on Ms. Pagliaro and offered any and all assistance necessary to find the juvenile,” stated the BPD release.

“Over the course of the next 12 hours, BPD officers began various legal processes to search several social media accounts, in the hopes of finding clues to the location of Ms. Pagliaro,” the BPD release continued. “On the morning of January 26, 2022, an investigator with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office contacted the department and stated that an office in Greenville, NC, consisting of members of the Greenville Police Department (GPD), North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), had heard about the case and offered their assistance. The BPD graciously accepted this offer. Within an hour, agents with the FBI were knocking on doors in Virginia. The next 24 hours consisted of constant interagency cooperation and communication, various legal processes, and FBI agent visits to numerous locations in Virginia.”

The BPD release stated that on the evening of January 27, 2022, agents with the FBI located Pagliaro unharmed in Virginia. The teen was returned to Beaufort County at approximately 3 a.m. on the morning of January 28, 2022.

“During the course of the investigation, it was determined that Mary Pagliaro voluntarily got into a car with individuals she met in an online chat room,” stated the release. “The group then travelled to Williamsburg, VA, where they remained until discovery.”

Jacob Aaron Sanders, 25, of Gladewater, Texas and Helena Janelle Bernache, 25, of Culpeper, Va. were charged with NCGS 14-43.3: felonious restraint by the Belhaven Police Department.

“The investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests and charges may follow,” stated the release. “Even though Mary Pagliaro volunteered to travel with the adults, due to her age, her consent did not matter.”

The Belhaven Police Department expressed thanks to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, NCSBI Criminal Apprehension Team and Fugitive and Missing Person Task Force, NCSBI Northeastern and Piedmont District, FBI Charlotte-Greenville Resident Agency, FBI Norfolk-Peninsula Resident Agency, Guildford County Sheriff’s Office, Williamsburg (Va.) Police Department and York County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.