The Amber Alert notification triggers a stomach-dropping moment. A mobile device buzzes and displays information about a child missing and in potential danger, and about a suspicious vehicle.
The system uses multiple avenues to get information out quickly to help stop an abductor. It has done so for almost 20 years, beginning here in Dallas-Fort Worth in 1996.
The Amber Alert system, now nationwide, has helped rescue almost 800 children.
But as wonderful and valuable a law enforcement tool as the Amber Alert is, it stemmed from a horrific crime, one that unfortunately slips from people's memories until an anniversary spurs news media updates.
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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Arlington’s most infamous cold case, the abduction and murder of Amber Hagerman.
On Jan. 13, 1996, the 9-year-old went to ride her bike with her 5-year-old brother, Ricky, down the street from their grandparent’s house. Ricky went home, and in the minutes it took him to ride back to the grocery store parking lot where Amber was last seen, she was gone.
Her body was found after four days.
Now 20 years later, her killer still hasn’t been found. The Arlington police department is still “committed to bringing justice to Amber,” Lt. Mike Hollier said at a Tuesday news conference.
Although the leads still come in monthly, around 8,000 in total, none have brought a solid link to the man who pulled up in a dark truck and grabbed Amber from her bike.
At Tuesday’s news conference, Arlington police said they still believe someone in the community has information about Amber’s disappearance. The department released a video on social media detailing the investigation and asking for tips.
“It’s important to us that everyone out there think about this case and think about any possible suspect they may have,” Detective Ben Lopez said in the video. “Even the smallest lead could be the right lead that would help us break this case and bring the killer to justice.”
Lopez is now the lead investigator on the case.
Not only is it important to police to have everyone think about this case, it is important to the community. Arlington and Amber’s family need closure and justice.
Amber Hagerman should be remembered, a reminder of how dear our children really are. Maybe the next news update will not be about a cold case, but a solved one.