LOUISA — A Bumpass man who was the subject of a 10-day manhunt last year faces up to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to eight charges related to the 2019 disappearance of his ex-girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter.
Bruce William Lynch Jr., 34, pleaded guilty in Louisa County Circuit Court to four counts of carnal knowledge of a minor without force and four counts of indecent liberties with a minor.
Lynch authorities scoured the state in October after he was declared a person of interest in the disappearance of the 14-year-old. Lynch and the child eventually were apprehended without incident in Caroline County.
Monday, Lynch appeared in court for the first time in several months, clad in an orange Central Virginia Regional Jail jumpsuit, his hands shackled together and wearing a beard that helped mask a somber expression. Lynch quietly pleaded guilty to each of the eight charges he faced, occasionally being asked by the judge to speak louder.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, meaning Lynch could be sentenced to eight decades behind bars.
After Lynch’s pleas, Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire detailed the situation that led to the charges and the subsequent investigation.
Lynch and the child disappeared last October after the child’s mother, who had previously been in a relationship with Lynch, became suspicious of his behavior toward her daughter.
Not long after the child was reported missing by her mother, McGuire said a massive manhunt was launched and the FBI was brought onto the case after texts between Lynch and the child indicated that they may have run away to West Virginia.
Because Lynch was armed, authorities feared for the safety of the child and issued an Amber Alert, widely publicizing the child’s name.
“Quite frankly, we found the child because of a concerned citizen in Caroline County who saw the vehicle we publicized Lynch may be driving and reported it,” McGuire said.
After apprehending Lynch, McGuire said it soon became apparent that the child had not been abducted but chose to run away with Lynch. In interviews with the police the night of his arrest, Lynch eventually told police that he had not raped or abducted the child and claimed to be in love with her, according to McGuire.
Through forensic testimony and interviews, authorities discovered that the pair had a sexual relationship.
Lynch initially faced an abduction charge, but McGuire said the charge was dropped because, per state code, an abduction requires force, violence, or the threat of either, which McGuire said did not apply to this case.
Lynch is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on September 21 in Louisa County Circuit Court.