Fort Worth

Hours after girl kidnapped, Fort Worth police began alert process. Here’s what happened

Fort Worth residents celebrate safe return of 8-year-old kidnapped

Fort Worth residents celebrated the return of an 8-year-old who was kidnapped Saturday, May 18, 2019.
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Fort Worth residents celebrated the return of an 8-year-old who was kidnapped Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Two hours and 36 minutes after an 8-year-old was kidnapped as she walked with her mother along a Fort Worth street, a city police detective began the process of requesting an Amber Alert, the department said Tuesday night.

At 9:14 p.m. Saturday, a Major Case Unit detective emailed a notification to the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin, the first step in sending a cellphone message to notify the public to an abducted child in danger. The detective verified the message was received.

The DPS is responsible for passing on the information to the Texas Joint Crime Information Center, the agency that would send cellphone alerts. The state agency also notifies the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“We were informed the state would broadcast at 6 a.m. with whatever limited information we had,” Fort Worth police said Tuesday.

But that alert never came because the girl was found in a motel room with the suspect about 2 a.m. Sunday.

The girl was walking with her mother when she kidnapped at Sixth Avenue and Lowden Street. Police received the call at 6:37 p.m.

Fort Worth police commanders have previously said the girl’s kidnapping did not meet one criterion for issuing an Amber Alert. While images of the suspect’s vehicle were available, its license plate was not.

A separate alert was bungled because of difficulty with a fax machine, police said. The department said it is responsible for faxing alert information to radio stations. But late Saturday, detectives were not able to successfully use a fax machine they had at the Ryan Place scene.

“The fax step was never completed, and for this we do apologize,” the department said.

In the future, faxes will be sent with a more reliable machine from the police Communication Division, the section responsible for handling 911 calls.

The department said it would review its response to the Ryan Place kidnapping.

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