AMBER Alert Briefs – Issue 2 2020
Short News Clips on AMBER Alert & Child Protection Issues
TENNESSEE AUTHORITIES WARN AGAINST FRAUDULENT AMBER ALERT DONATION SITE
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee issued a warning not to support a GoFundMe page connected to a missing 15-month-old girl. On February 19, 2020, the sheriff’s office issued an AMBER Alert after 18-year-old Megan Boswell reported her daughter was missing. On February 23, the sheriff’s office said a donation site that claimed to be connected to the investigation was fraudulent and it was not authorized to use the agency’s name. On March 6, the child was found dead, ending a 17-day-search in 3 states. The mother is now charged with making a false report.
PENNSYLVANIA CONSIDERING MISSING ENDANGERED PERSON ADVISORY SYSTEM
A Pennsylvania legislator wants law enforcement agencies to immediately issue a Missing Endangered Person Advisory when a parent or family member reports an abduction. Representative Anthony DeLuca is calling the change to the AMBER Alert program the “Nalani Johnson Rule,” named after a two-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered on August 31, 2019. DeLuca said the child’s father reported the child missing with information about the kidnapper, vehicle, and direction they were traveling. He said the alert was delayed for hours because the approved criteria for an AMBER Alert had not been met.
SUBJECT OF FLORIDA’S OLDEST AMBER ALERT IS STILL MISSING
A boy who was eight years old when Florida issued an AMBER Alert on September 11, 2000, remains missing. Zachary Bernhardt would now be 28 years old; the case is the longest-running AMBER Alert in the state. Investigators continue to look for Bernhardt and seven other children still missing after alerts were issued on their behalf.
MISSOURI AUTHORITIES ASK THE PUBLIC TO SIGN UP FOR UPGRADED AMBER ALERT SYSTEM
The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) is encouraging residents to subscribe to ‘Mo- Alerts’ for immediate receipt of AMBER Alerts issued in the state. MSHP launched the upgraded AMBER Alert system in December 2019 which streamlines the process for faster public alerting. The new system was first used on January 17, 2020, for a 2-year-old child. A resident saw the AMBER Alert and the child was located minutes after the alert was issued. Missouri residents can sign up at moalerts.mo.gov/.
SISTER OF ABDUCTION VICTIM PUSHES FOR BILL ALLOWING POLICE TO SEARCH DNA DATABASES FOR VIOLENT CRIMINALS
In June 2000, 16-year-old Molly Bish was abducted and murdered in Massachusetts. Her killer has never been found. Twenty years later, her sister Heather Bish continues to pursue justice by advocating for legislation that allows law enforcement to search for violent criminals on DNA databases, using familial searches. “The beauty of familial testing is, it’s science. It doesn’t wrongly convict anyone,” Heather Bish said.
NEW JERSEY LEGISLATORS SEEK HIT-AND-RUN ALERTS
A group of New Jersey state representatives created a “Zack Alert” to notify the public when a person flees from an accident causing serious injuries or death. The lawmakers began pursuing the bill after 21-year-old Zachary Simmons was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hoboken in 2016; Zackhary’s Law was enacted in January 2020.