Texas officers honored for saving two kidnapped children
Two Kilgore, Texas, officers were honored April 10, 2022, for rescuing two children from an alleged kidnapper. After an AMBER Alert was issued, Lieutenant Joey Chitwood and Corporal Joey Johnston began checking local hotels and spotted the suspect. They arrested the man, who was believed to be armed, and safely recovered the children, ages 10 and 11. Commendations for the officers were signed by the Kilgore mayor, city manager, and police chief.
Kidnapping survivor joins mother of missing teen to speak at Ohio AMBER Alert conference
Natalee Holloway has been missing more than 17 years after disappearing during a high school graduation trip in Aruba. Natalie’s mother, Beth Holloway, spoke at the Northeast Ohio AMBER Alert Conference March 25, 2022, about the desperation and panic she felt when her daughter went missing. “I think about in Natalee’s case the difference it would’ve made if we had a 911 number to call, if we would have had an AMBER Alert,” Holloway said.
The case continues to spark international attention. A suspect has been named, but Natalee’s whereabouts are still a mystery.
Gina DeJesus also spoke at the conference about how she was kidnapped as a teen in 2002. She was held for more than a decade with two other young women before they escaped from the “house of horrors.” “I have had to learn a lot since I came home. I take it day by day,” she said. DeJesus has since started the “Cleveland Missing” organization to help find and support missing people.
Missouri enhances AMBER Alert system so alerts are more targeted
The Missouri State Highway Patrol can now send targeted AMBER and Blue Alerts to people living near the incident. The location-specific alerts are part of an upgrade to the state’s AMBER Alert system. Troopers hope the targeted alerts will help the public pay more attention to the notifications, and law enforcement is still able to send statewide alerts if they are needed.
New Jersey missing child investigation uncovers child sex trafficking network
During a three-month investigation into a missing child, New Jersey detectives uncovered a child sex trafficking network. In October 2021, law enforcement officers discovered online advertisements offering the girl for prostitution. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office charged three adults for allegedly trafficking children for prostitution in the case.
Wisconsin considers “Lily Alert” for missing children after tragic murder
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said he is interested in creating a “Lily Alert” that could be used for a missing or abducted child – but with fewer criteria than an AMBER Alert. An online petition was started after 10-year-old Lily Peters was murdered by a 14-year-old boy. She was supposed to ride her bike home, and when she did not arrive, she was reported missing. An AMBER Alert was not issued because authorities didn’t have descriptive information about the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle. “I think we should look at that,” Evans said. “Clearly it’s not something that would cost a significant amount of money, and it seems a reasonable approach.”
Pennsylvania lawmakers consider hit-and-run alert
Pennsylvania legislators are considering creating an alert system to notify repair shops about hit-and-run drivers. The “Jay Alert” would be issued to all Pennsylvania auto body shops so workers could be on the lookout for vehicles involved in hit-and-runs resulting in serious injury or death. The bill is named after Jayanna Powell, an 8-year-old who was killed in 2016 by a hit-and-run driver.
Texas AMBER Alert partners host first fundraising event
The AMBER Alert Network of Brazos Valley in Texas held its first self-organized fundraiser in April 2022. The golf event in Bryan, Texas, raised funds to help with basic operational costs, as well as educational material, posters, and training courses for police on finding missing persons.
A Look Back at 50 Issues of the AMBER Advocate Newsletter
Since 2006 the AMBER Advocate newsletter has covered the growth and expansion of the AMBER Alert program across the nation and internationally. Now on its 50th edition, we are more dedicated than ever to bringing you news about the people working hard to continuously strengthen AMBER Alert programs in every state through solid processes and protocols, comprehensive law enforcement training, public awareness and education, and expansion of partnerships to distribute lifesaving information when a child is abducted.
Over the last 15 years, The AMBER Advocate has covered a broad array of information. It has illustrated the evolution of the AMBER Alert network through the grass-roots work of state partnerships involving law enforcement, the media, the transportation sector, and other key stakeholders in public alerting. From the first AMBER Alert National Conference, the rise and use of social media, the beginning of Alerta AMBER Mexico and AMBER Alert in Europe, and so much more, we’ve witnessed together how AMBER Alerts are bringing endangered missing and abducted children home safely.
With more than 1,100 children recovered due to AMBER Alerts as of May 1, 2022, we know the programs around the globe work, and we stand in confidence that they will grow even stronger. Through AATTAP’s work, we’ve been honored to help create a strong network of interstate and interagency cooperation between states, agencies, and the citizens they serve; breaking down barriers to communication and information sharing, and expanding and improving upon resources that expedite the safe recovery of abducted children.
We encourage you to go to amberadvocate.org and take advantage of the resources available to all disciplines comprising the critical connectedness inherent in child protection: law enforcement and other criminal justice professions, child advocacy and social service providers, families and community members. While there, be sure to check out the archive of past issues of The AMBER Advocate and let us know which ones are your favorites.