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Accused abductor of Giles County toddler sent fake tips to investigators, prosecutor says

Accused abductor of Giles County toddler sent fake tips to investigators, prosecutor says


CHRISTIANSBURG — Nancy Renee Fridley, the Clifton Forge woman accused of abducting a 2-year-old from a Giles County church, tried to mislead investigators by submitting false tips, a prosecutor said Thursday.

And during the 25 hours that Fridley allegedly had Noah Gabriel Trout, the toddler who was taken from a nursery during Sunday services at Riverview Baptist Church in Ripplemead, she and her boyfriend shaved the child’s head and introduced him to neighbors as “Bobby Jr.,” saying he was the son of Fridley’s boyfriend Bobby Lee Taylor, the prosecutor said.

Also, Fridley seemed to be planning to abduct another child as well — besides Noah, she seemed to be seeking a younger boy, Giles County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bobby Lilly said during Thursday’s bond hearing.

The new details of the accusations against Fridley came as she sought a bond to be released from jail, where she has been held since her arrest on May 4, the day after Noah was taken from the church.

Fridley is charged in Giles County with abduction, and child abuse or neglect. She also faces a methamphetamine charge in Alleghany County, where Noah was located by Virginia State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her hearing Thursday was held before Judge Robert Viar in Montgomery County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, with Fridley appearing via a video link from the New River Valley Regional Jail.

After presentations from Lilly and defense attorney Ryan Hamrick of Christiansburg, Viar declined to set a bond. “I can’t think of anything that would guarantee the safety of the public at this point,” the judge said.

Hamrick asked the judge to order a competency evaluation to assess Fridley’s sanity at the time of Noah’s abduction, and Viar agreed to do so.

Noah’s 25-hour disappearance sparked an investigation in which the Giles County Sheriff’s Office was joined by a host of local, state and federal agencies. Chief among the investigation’s findings, Lilly said, was that Fridley’s alleged actions were a “stranger abduction.”

“The defendant has no connection to this child, to this child’s family,” Lilly said in Thursday’s hearing.

The prosecutor said Fridley seemed to be working to create circumstances where she could take two children. She told neighbors that she was getting back custody of her two boys, one with an age of about 2 and one younger, Lilly said.

Officers found two fully set-up beds for children in the mobile home that she and Taylor shared in Clifton Forge, Lilly said. She had bought children’s sippy cups, and officers found a child’s onesie that was too small for Noah, Lilly said.

“She intended to take not just one, but multiple children,” Lilly said.

Lilly said there was evidence that in March or April, Fridley visited a church in Narrows.

She returned to the Narrows church on May 3 and went to its childcare area, where she gave a false name for herself and said that “Larry” was sick and had asked her to pick up a child, Lilly said.

But church members questioned Fridley and when she gave a name for the child she was looking for, they said it was not the name of anyone there and turned her away, Lilly said.

Investigators determined that Fridley then went to another Narrows church, across the street from the first, and again said she was there to pick up a child, Lilly said. She was turned away there as well.

Fridley went on to Ripplemead and Riverview Baptist Church, where she talked to nursery workers, and pointed to Noah, saying he was the boy she was supposed to take, Lilly said.

Fridley was photographed leaving the church with Noah, Lilly said. She drove him to Clifton Forge, which is about 90 miles away, and told her boyfriend that this was his child, Lilly said.

Fridley and Taylor shaved Noah’s head and took him around to meet neighbors, Lilly said.

Investigators discovered that Fridley was sending fake tips to them, intended to send the search south to Tennessee rather than north to Alleghany County, Lilly said.

When a state police SWAT team moved in on Fridley and Taylor’s residence on May 4, they found Fridley in a vehicle with Noah, having enlisted a neighbor to take them to a different location, Lilly said.

Fridley also had methamphetamine on her person, Lilly said. Asked during Thursday’s hearing if she faced a drug charge, Fridley said, “It was in my pocket.”

Fridley testified that she has had health problems in jail, including depression. She said that she had many relatives in Craig County and that if released, she probably would live with her mother or oldest daughter there.

But when Lilly asked if she had talked with either relative about living with them, Fridley said that she had not.

“I don’t think family would put me out,” Fridley said.

Fridley’s case involves so many jurisdictions both because of the far-flung nature of Noah’s travels on May 3 and May 4, and because Judge Stephanie Murray-Shortt, who would have heard Fridley’s case in Giles County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, recused herself. One of Murray-Shortt’s staff members was attending the church service during which Trout was taken, Lilly said outside Thursday’s hearing.

Though the bond hearing was held in Montgomery County, Viar said that a preliminary hearing for Fridley, now scheduled for Aug. 16, will be back in Giles County.

Besides the charges against Fridley, Taylor, 42, faces counts of abduction and drug possession in Alleghany County. Fridley and Taylor both have preliminary hearings scheduled there for June 25.


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