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Witness: Abducted N.C. girl, 6, found chained to tree

WILMINGTON, N.C.-- A witness says a 6-year-old North Carolina girl found following an 18-hour search was chained to a tree when deputies located her.

New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon says the child was found Thursday morning about 2 miles from her home near Wilmington.

The witness, Jason Mehalko, tells local news outlets he loaned deputies a saw which they used to free the girl.

“We beat the odds today, it’s safe to say,” New Hanover County Sheriff Edward McMahon said during a news conference Thursday, according to CBS affiliate WNCN. “We worked tirelessly, relentlessly through the night and I am glad to say, thank the Lord we found her this morning alive and well.”

Authorities did not immediately confirm the child was chained, but an arrest warrant says she was unlawfully confined and restrained. She was otherwise unharmed, reports WNCN.

A registered sex offender, 46-year-old Douglas Edwards, has been charged with kidnapping and two counts of indecent liberties with a child. An AMBER Alert issued for the girl late Wednesday, saying her potential abductor was riding a moped. Authorities were searching in a wooded area along a road when a K-9 officer helped locate her, the station reports.

Edwards is being held on $9 million bond and was to appear in court Friday. It was not immediately known if he has an attorney.

Edwards was convicted of first-degree sexual offense and indecent liberties with a minor in 1996, the station reports.

The victim related to those convictions was 6 years old at the time of the offenses, according to the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. Edwards was 24 when the offenses occurred in 1994.

He reportedly spent 16 years in prison and released in May 2012.