AMBER Alert on the Front Lines: Connecticut

Found in 60 minutes: Autistic child quickly recovered safely after Connecticut AMBER Alert

Middletown Police Car

Shifting stories, multiple suspects and a missing 4-year-old child with autism: all elements that complicated a case involving an AMBER Alert issued in Connecticut on June 1, 2021. It all began when the mother of the boy asked her brother to babysit.

While babysitting, the uncle said a family friend and known drug addict asked to borrow his car and take the child out but he refused. He called his sister at 11:20 a.m. after he woke up from a nap and told her his car and the child were gone.

The boy’s mother called the Middletown Police Department and reported her son had been missing for 23 hours. Middletown officers requested an AMBER Alert at 6:00 p.m. The alert was approved by the Connecticut State Police 20 minutes later and the child abduction alert was issued at 7:52 p.m.

The alert provided details about the alleged abduction to all state troopers, broadcasters and the public. The alert was also posted on social media, electronic highway signs and a message distributed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

At 8:15 p.m., a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) message was disseminated to local law enforcement agencies and the License Plate Reader (LPR) system was activated. The agency also notified the FBI and state police in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Authorities discovered the missing vehicle was captured on camera heading south on the Berlin turnpike earlier in the afternoon. They also found the suspect’s cellphone pinging that evening near Wethersfield, Connecticut. Two different citizens called 911 and reported seeing the suspect’s vehicle at a motel in Wethersfield.

Officers found the vehicle but it was empty. A woman at the motel told police she saw two people running into the woods. A K9 officer and police dog began a search and found the suspect and her husband covered in mud.

They also discovered the missing boy crying hysterically. The couple was arrested and the boy was taken to a hospital as a precaution. The case was resolved at 8:52 p.m., exactly one hour after the AMBER Alert was issued.

“The alert provided crucial information to all law enforcement agencies and the child was located in a very timely manner,” said Connecticut State Police Lieutenant and State AMBER Alert Coordinator Robert Derry. “This is just another example of the AMBER Alert system working correctly.”

According to the police report, the suspect said she asked to borrow the uncle’s car to take the boy out. She said she picked up her husband from an emergency room after he had escaped from a halfway house. The woman said they bought cocaine and started getting high with the boy in the car and in the motel room. The woman claimed the child’s uncle had given her permission to take his car and had asked her to babysit.

The uncle later admitted to police that his brother had taken him to work and that he lied to his sister about the circumstances around her son’s disappearance. On June 3, the victim’s uncle was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a child.

Lt. Derry has been a trooper with the Connecticut State Police for 27 years. He is the Commanding Officer for the Central District Major Crime Squad as well as the state AMBER Alert Coordinator. The state police agency has 930 troopers and it manages and coordinates Connecticut’s AMBER Alert program.

“We are here to serve the public in our communities every day,” added Derry. “We all take our roles and responsibilities very seriously. We work very hard to protect the public and to keep everyone safe.”