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Chilling Story Behind the Amber Hagerman’s Murder And The AMBER alert system
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Chilling Story Behind the Amber Hagerman’s Murder And The AMBER alert system

Amber Hagerman is the reason we have the Amber alert or a child abduction emergency alert system. As of April 2019, 957 children rescued specifically because of AMBER Alert. To this day, the Amber behind Amber alert is still waiting for justice.

Nine-year-old Amber Hagerman rode her new pink bike, which she had received for Christmas, around her grandmother's Arlington, Texas, home on January 13, 1996. But as soon as she arrived at the lot of a closed Winn-Dixie supermarket, a man in a black truck grabbed her.

Amber Hagerman's lifeless, nude body was discovered in a nearby creek four days later.

Even though Amber Hagerman's murderer has never been apprehended, her disappearance has had a lasting impact and served as the motivation for the AMBER alert system, which has since prevented hundreds of children from suffering a similar fate.

And now, detectives believe that they’ll finally be able to catch the man who murdered Amber Hagerman.

The Kidnapping Of Amber Hagerman

Amber Rene Hagerman was born on November 25, 1986, and she was only nine years old. It was Amber's last bike ride, which she took with her five-year-old brother Ricky on January 13, 1996.

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Nine-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas was abducted while riding her bike on January 13, 1996 — and her unsolved murder two days later inspired the AMBER alert system. Photo credit: allthatsinteresting.com

The siblings reportedly departed their grandmother's Arlington, Texas, home at 3:10 p.m., according to WFTV 9. Ricky and Amber never went farther than two tenths of a mile from her house because she had told them to stay close.

Ricky, however, chose to turn around and missed what happened to his sister when Amber rode into the Winn-Dixie supermarket parking lot.

However, Jimmie Kevil did. The 78-year-old observed the young girl as she cycled through the parking lot. The man, who Kevil assumed to be white or Hispanic, had dark hair and was in his 20s or 30s when a black truck pulled up next to her.

According to Kevil, a former sheriff's deputy, "[The kidnapper] pulled up, jumped out, and grabbed her," CBS Dallas Fort-Worth reported. "I called the police because I thought they should be informed about her scream."

Following the incident, a large number of federal agents and police officers flocked to Arlington in an attempt to locate the missing girl. The New York Times claims that they only stopped looking for Amber to quickly nap. Sadly, though, the nine-year-old's body was discovered in a nearby creek four days later.

Former Arlington police detective Randy Lockhart, who attended the scene, said at a Cleburne Rotary Club luncheon in 2021 that Amber was "totally nude except for a sock on her left foot."

“We rolled her over and I caught her head in my hands. Several lacerations to her throat. [A] knife or screwdriver had been used to rip her throat out.”

How The Case Of Amber Hagerman Inspired The AMBER Alert System

But while Amber's family was grieving, Diane Simone, a mother from Texas, had an idea. She wondered aloud about setting up a national alert system for missing children when she called a local radio station.

"'I can't get over this child,'" I uttered. She said to PEOPLE in 2022, "There has to be something we can do."

Simone reasoned that since Americans were already receiving alerts for weather and civil defense events, why wouldn't they do the same for this?"

That's when the concept for the AMBER Alert system originated.

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An example of an AMBER Alert from June 2008. Photo credit: Bob Bobster/Wikimedia Commons

Diane Simone's concept, dubbed "Amber's plan," proved to be successful. Law enforcement and broadcasters in the Dallas-Fort Worth region collaborated to notify the public about kidnapped children. The system was soon renamed AMBER Alert, which stands for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response."

The Legacy Of AMBER Alerts To This Day

Over 1,000 children have been saved by the national system since it started in 1996, according to the AMBER Alert website.

As per the website, "AMBER Alerts additionally function as a warning to those who might exploit our kids." "Recent AMBER Alert cases have demonstrated that some abductors free the kidnapped child immediately upon hearing the AMBER Alert."

AMBER Alerts operate as follows. Authorities alert state transportation agencies and broadcasters once law enforcement concludes that a case fits specific requirements. Alerts can be received as texts, appear on digital billboards, interrupt programming, and show up on statewide transportation signs. 2015 saw the appearance of AMBER Alerts on Facebook as well.

The alert system named in honor of Amber Hagerman's mother, Donna Williams, described it as a bittersweet moment. Twenty years after Amber's murder, she stated in an interview conducted in 2016, "There's another part of me that wonders what would have happened if we had the alert when Amber went missing." Would it have been able to help me get her back?"

Even though they may not be able to reunite Amber Hagerman with her family, investigators are committed to bringing the nine-year-old who was killed to justice. Sgt. Grant Gildon of the Arlington Police Department informed PEOPLE that Amber's case is still very much open.

“We continue to have leads,” he said. “A lot of people will refer to Amber’s case as, what’s commonly referred to as, a cold case. But for the Arlington Police Department, it has never been listed as a cold case because we’ve never gone 180 days without having some lead come in.”

In fact, authorities are certain that someone has knowledge regarding Amber Hagerman's kidnapping that they haven't yet disclosed. They insist that it is still not too late.

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A mural dedicated to the memory of Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas, where she was kidnapped in 1996. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It is our hope that a member of the community witnessed something. Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye told WFTV 9 that "perhaps they didn't come forward 25 years ago out of fear or not wanting to get involved." "We need people to clear their minds and bring forward anything that might be (of) value to our investigation, for whatever reason."

In 2021, investigators also revealed that they may have DNA evidence linked to Amber's killer. With luck, police will be able to solve Amber Hagerman's kidnapping with the help of this evidence or a fresh tip, bringing justice to the nine-year-old whose life saved hundreds of others.

It is our hope that a member of the community witnessed something. Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye told WFTV 9 that "perhaps they didn't come forward 25 years ago out of fear or not wanting to get involved." "We need people to clear their minds and bring forward anything that might be (of) value to our investigation, for whatever reason."

In 2021, investigators also revealed that they may have DNA evidence linked to Amber's killer. With luck, police will be able to solve Amber Hagerman's kidnapping with the help of this evidence or a fresh tip, bringing justice to the nine-year-old whose life saved hundreds of others.

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