We’ve all had an alert start blaring on our phones and seen highway billboards declaring a missing child in the area. Unfortunately, this alert was named after real life victim, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman.
Amber took her little brother Ricky out for a bike ride on an unusually warm winter day in Arlington, Texas in January 1996. She steered her brother towards an abandoned grocery store parking lot where other neighborhood kids had set up bike ramps.
When Ricky grew tired of playing, he rode back home by himself. Minutes after she was left alone, Amber was abducted. Despite a 911 call to the police by a witness, Jim Kevil, Amber was long gone. Jim reports Amber tried to fight her way free of her attacker to no avail. Police showed up minutes later but were unable to get any leads.
It took four days for Amber to be found. Her body had been dumped into a local creek with her throat cut. An autopsy revealed that Amber had been kept alive for two days and had been sexually assaulted. With a recent storm and the body being placed in running water, no evidence remained.
With such a lack of evidence, the police had no place to start, let alone anything concrete enough convict anyone. They followed over 8,000 leads but the investigation remains open to this day.
In the days following Amber’s abduction, a mother in Fort Worth called a local radio station to inquire why they sent out alerts of impending bad weather but not a public alert when children were abducted. She stated if the community had known Amber was missing then maybe she could have been found alive.
This woman, Diana Simone’s idea snowballed into a program now called the AMBER Alert Program. This alert can be broadcast on the radio, TVs and directly to people’s cell phones. It gives a description of the child and a description of the vehicle the child was taken in.
Amber’s mother Diana calls the program bittersweet. She often wonders if it would have saved her daughter if it had been in place sooner. While she is thankful for it saving other children’s lives, it will never bring her daughter back. Investigators are still working this case and hope to shed light on the man who abducted Amber all those years ago.