Glenda Whitson, left, and Donna Norris pose January 4, 2011, next to a photo of granddaughter/daughter Amber Hagerman that was walk away 15 years earlier while talk a bicycle near Whitson's home in Arlington, Texas ~ above January 13, 1996. Photo: Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News organization via Getty images
Article Details:

How to be Amber warns Created? The Amber Hagerman Cold Case

AuthorLaura Dorwart

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Year Published



How to be Amber cautions Created? The Amber Hagerman Cold Case



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December 08, 2021


A+E Networks

On January 13, 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was riding she bike alongside she 5-year-old brother, Ricky, come a grocery store in Arlington, Texas, just two blocks from their home. Sadly, the little girl would never return.

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Four job later, Amber’s human body was discovered in a nearby creek. She was pronounced dead from cut wounds on she neck and throat.

Most people know Amber cautions as child-abduction emergency notifications that aid law enforcement find lacking kids. Yet the tragic abduction and murder case behind the infamous alert device was never solved—and police space still trying to find clues.

What occurred to Amber Hagerman?

While no suspects have ever been identified in Amber’s abduction, there was one witness. A passerby, Jim Kevil, observed an adult male stranger snatch a screaming, kicking Amber from her bike and also wrangle her into a black pickup truck in the Winn-Dixie parking lot before driving off. Kevil defined her attacker as white or Hispanic, approximately 6 feet tall, tool build, and also between the periods of 25 and 40. He referred to as the police immediately, however it was also late to conserve the former Girl Scout.

Meanwhile, 5-year-old Ricky rushed residence to call his mother and grandparents the he couldn’t find his sister. Once Amber’s grandfather Jimmie Whitson came down on the scene, she was currently missing. He discovered only an empty bicycle in the grocery save parking lot.

The family instantly sprang right into action, notifying neighborhood police, the FBI and the news media in what would come to be a nationwide find for your beloved Amber. Much more than 50 federal agents and area police officers joined in the search. Police believed the abductor’s habits had likely escalated due to the fact that of a current traumatic or upsetting event, such together a divorce or layoff.

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Four job after Amber’s kidnapping, a dogwalker uncovered her body in a creek close to the Arlington woodland Hill Apartments, just a couple of miles native the Hagermans’ home. Police thought she had washed up there due to recent thunderstorms.

An autopsy by the Tarrant County medical Examiner revealed that Amber’s throat had actually been slit and that the little girl was most likely kept lively by she attacker for at least two days. Return an investigator with the ME’s office says he didn’t recognize if Amber to be raped, released reports speak she was uncovered nude.

While one investigative task force was formed hastily after Amber’s body was discovered, it to be disbanded in 1999 once the case went cold. Since Amber’s disappearance, Arlington police have sifted through much more than 8,000 leads. But without physical evidence, such as a weapon or DNA, no official suspects have ever before been discovered, and the instance has been daunting to pursue. And unlike in numerous other unsolved murders, couple of credible theories have been posited regarding the kidnapper’s identity.

How the Amber Alert began

Amber’s harrowing abduction and death motivated her family to become fierce son advocates. Back Jim Kevil observed Amber’s kidnapping and notified law enforcement, there to be no available coordinated notice system come mobilize the public approximately a absent child.

Hagerman’s disappearance sparked prompt interest among parents in the Dallas-Fort worth area and throughout the country, states Leonard Snipes, owner and also operator of the Crime in America website and also a former an elderly specialist for crime avoidance for the room of Justice. Explaining why Amber Hagerman’s instance resonated so deeply with the public at the time, Snipe tells A&E True Crime, “We all take an attention in the plight of children, regardless of whose son it is. The an instantly recognizable, innate principle that we all understand.”

Concerned ar members join in the efforts to discover a new means to respond to abductions, urging law enforcement to take a stand and work to prevent similar tragedies in the future. , is credited with the idea of modeling a child-abduction emergency-response device after the nationwide Weather Service’s warnings. She call-in to a neighborhood radio station released a nationwide campaign to revolutionize the way we inform the public about kidnappings.

Nine months after Amber’s death, the public got their great in the form of the Amber Hagerman Child security Act and also the now-famous Amber alarm system. Amber, or AMBER (“America’s Missing: transfer Emergency Response”) Alerts, help law-enforcement agencies and media outlets spread the news of a kidnapping practically immediately. Follow to Snipes, Amber Alerts are so effective due to the fact that they “allow and also encourage publicly participation in the children recovery.” the added, “A common responsibility because that crime prevention is the heart and soul of regional alerts, and that’s a good thing.”

Early execution were sent out via radio, while today’s cautions spring up on our cell phones and social media accounts. The Amber Alert has actually served together a prototype for comparable systems in various other countries and has advanced with the development of digital technology. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that Amber Alerts have returned much more than 900 kids to their families in the past two decades.

The Amber Hagerman instance Today

Although it’s been an ext than twenty years since Amber’s disappearance, she family—father Richard Hagerman, mother Donna Williams (then Whitson) and also younger brothers Ricky—has never provided up ~ above the case.

In January 2016, Amber’s mother and brother, together with several of the detectives who initially investigated her murder, hosted a push conference to request tips and leads from the general public that could assist to determine Amber’s attacker. In turn, Texas branch Greg Abbott asserted January 13 as Amber alert Awareness job in respect of the Hagerman family and also their initiatives to change the means that regulation enforcement and also the public are notified around missing children. Memories of the situation live on in the community, with North Texas artists freshly debuting a mural in ~ the memorial site where Amber was kidnapped.

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With no accessible forensic evidence, Amber’s instance may continue to be unresolved. Still, Arlington police to speak they will proceed to seek justice for Amber and her family and will proactively pursue any leads.

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