Exeter girls remain missing
With two small children still missing, the Barry County Sheriff's Department has issued a warrant for the arrest of Matthew Justin Chapman, 35, of Exeter. He is charged with kidnapping his daughters, Abby L. Chapman, 7, and Isabella K. Chapman, 3, both of Exeter.
"Amber Chapman filed a missing persons report on her two children on July 10," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly. "The Chapmans are still married and no custody papers have been issued to either of them.
"State statutes say that if she or he has the children she or he must let the other one know that the children are safe," said Epperly. "He hasn't done that, so we have issued a warrant for parental kidnapping."
A Missouri Highway Patrol alert has also been issued for Matthew Chapman and the children, said Epperly.
"We have been searching places that Amber said he liked to go camping," said Epperly. "We know that he had a cell phone, and we have not been able to make contact with him through that cell phone."
According to Epperly, Matthew Chapman originally told Amber Chapman that he was taking the two girls to Silver Dollar City in Branson. She has not seen him or the children since.
"We know that he got rid of the vehicle he used to drive and has come into another vehicle," said Epperly. "That is a maroon colored Jeep. We also know that he had a lot of camping equipment in the vehicle."
Due to the fact that Matthew Chapman has been known to own several weapons, the Barry County Sheriff's Department has listed the warrant with a cautionary indicator for law enforcement, said Epperly.
"I have seen a letter that was from him in which he stated that he believes the children are better off with him," said Epperly. "After reading the letter, I believe that he loves his children very much, and as far as I know, he would not harm them, but they need to be located and this situation needs to be handled in the proper way.
"We know that he is not working," said Epperly. "If he feels like he is on the run, things could deteriorate for him and the children very quickly."
Amber Chapman has indicated that Matthew Chapman has said he would like to one day visit Colorado or Wyoming, said Epperly.
"We have searched his mother's and sisters' homes and a lot of other locations and not come up with anything so far," said Epperly. "If anyone knows anything about their location, we urge them to call the sheriff's department. They can remain anonymous. We just need to find these children."
Matthew Chapman is five foot, 11 inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes. Abby Chapman is four feet tall and weighs around 45 pounds. She has brown hair and blue eyes. Isabella Chapman is three feet tall and weighs 40 pounds. She has blond hair and blue eyes.
Individuals with information on Matthew Chapman or his daughters are asked to call the Barry County Sheriff's Department at 847-3121.