Missing girl's case raises questions about AMBER Alert system
Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:50:43 GMT —
KMOV out of St. Louis reports that remains believed to be a 3-year-old Missouri girl who went missing more than a week ago were found Tuesday near a series of ditches along the Mississippi. Authorities say a neighbor is suspected of dumping Breeann Rodriguez's body after suffocating her with a plastic bag.
A Missouri State Highway Patrol officer searching by boat found Breeann's body near the floodway ditches about eight miles southeast of the her family's home in Senath. The girl's parents were notified shortly after she was found.
Breeann was last seen Aug. 6 riding her pink bike with training wheels in front of her home.
Many of you have taken an interest in this case, as it shared similar circumstances with the Alisa Meier case down in Louisiana, Mo. Fortunately, Alisa was one of the lucky ones, but many of our viewers have commented on the lack of an AMBER Alert in Breeann's disappearance.
Depending on how a child goes missing will determine if an Amber Alert is issued or if the child's name gets listed as an endangered person. You'll be surprised to find there are five pieces of criteria that must be met to create an AMBER Alert.
The five criteria are:- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.- The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.- The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.- The child TMs name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.(Source: amberalert.gov)
"When we have a missing person that meets that criteria, an Amber Alert is activated," said Sgt. Brent Bernhardt, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
But what if your child's disappearance doesn't meet that criteria? Depending on which state you live in, there might be an alternative.
In Missouri, it's called the Missouri Endangered Advisory Plan.
"The differences are that the victim is older than 17. We don't know if they've been abducted but there's a suspicion they're in danger. Both this and the Amber Alert are very similar in ways they work, as to who receives it."
Both will alert law enforcement, transportation agencies and media. One is national, the other statewide.
"The more eyes we have looking for these missing people the better chance of locating them," said Bernhardt.
Bernhardt says parents should be prepared for the worse. Always keep a current photo of your child on hand, along with height and weight, and if possible, a DNA sample. You can find information on a Child ID here.