If your phone starts making a loud noise, not a ringtone or a formal notification, it means an emergency has occurred that needs your attention. You might have heard or seen one go off.

Extreme weather like tornado warnings is connected to the wireless phone networks so any phone can receive them and potentially save lives.

One of the more haunting notifications is the Amber Alert, a notification that a child has gone missing and is suspected of being abducted.

These place entire communities – even cities – on alert to band together and be vigilant and assist the search and potential rescue.

This alert was named after one tragic event where its services could have been used the most. Amber Hagerman is the namesake of this alert, a nine-year-old girl abducted, murdered, and her killer never found.

To remind everyone of the shock of losing such a young, innocent life, the AMBER Alert was established across the United States and spread to other nations that never wanted to mourn another Amber Hagerman again.

Arlington Police Department

10 /10 Before Disappearing

Amber was a happy girl with a lot of friends. She was part of a local Junior Girl Scouts troop and was the older sister to her brother, Ricky, who she played with as much as possible.

She got good grades and loved writing and riding on her bike. She was the kind of girl that any mother would love to have, that any community would be devastated to lose.


9 /10 Riding Alone

On January 13, 1996, Amber went out with her brother Ricky to the nearby parking lot of an abandoned grocery store. Neighborhood kids set up a little ramp to do jumps.

After a bit, Ricky rode back home by himself, leaving Amber to keep playing independently. Just a few minutes later, she was abducted in broad daylight.


8 /10 Last Sighting

The last witness to Amber’s disappearance was Jim Kevil, a retired machinist watching from his backyard. He saw her riding alone until a man came out of a black pick-up truck and grabbed her.

She kicked and screamed as she was taken away, making it clear she didn’t know the man and didn’t want to be with him.

Jim called the police, who assembled on the scene minutes later, but there was no sign of the kidnapper any longer.

7 /10 Just Eight Minutes

Amber left her home at 3:10 and was seen being taken at 3:18. The culprit was never found. Police investigations went on for the next four days throughout the neighborhood of Arlington, Texas.

Aside from Jim, there were no witnesses, not even from the laundromat next door to the old grocery store. In that concise timeframe, she was taken away and couldn’t fight back.

6 /10 Tragically Short Life

Amber’s body was found in a creek bed four days later. She was disrobed, and evidence of sexual abuse was discovered.

She had been taken and kept alive for two days, then killed and deposited in the water just before a heavy rainstorm, which increased water flow over her body and prevented meaningful searches from being conducted for at least a day.

Being in that state washed away any potential forensic evidence left on her body.

Wikimedia Commons

5 /10 Arlington Mourns

After her death was discovered, police ramped up investigations as much as possible but had no evidence to go off of. They started offering rewards for possible tips.

Meanwhile, the community banded together to share the burden of grief. Her school set up a memorial for her, which her mother Donna attended. Her story was shared via local news, which quickly became a national predicament.

4 /10 Diane Simone

One of the people watching the events unfold from far outside was Diane Simone. A self-proclaimed “ordinary woman and mother,” she was made aware of what happened in the evening’s news and had a biting question, which she asked on public radio as a call-in request.

There are national weather and civil defense alert services that inform everyone through TV and phone about emergencies.

Why don’t those exist for missing child cases? Her question became an idea that eventually culminated into the AMBER Alert System.

Wikimedia Commons

3 /10 AMBER Alert

Named after the eponymous tragedy and also an acronym. America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Alerts are meant to register a community-wide call for vigilance and assistance the same way extreme weather alerts are meant to issue protective warnings for people to follow safety procedures.

The System’s goal is to make sure when a child is reported as missing; they can be looked for immediately, wasting no time and leaving no corner of a town or city unturned for clues to their location through witnesses and other evidence.

2 /10 Success From Tragedy

The first successful AMBER Alert recovery happened just two years later. A babysitter kidnapped a baby, and when missing, the AMBER Alert was broadcast to the entire community, informing them of the situation.

As a result, more people were involved in the search, questioning, and civil interrogation and worked alongside police responders to crack down on the case.

The child was rescued without being harmed, proving that the System was working. It was too late for Amber, but over 1,000 AMBER Alerts have resulted in the safety and recovery of lost children because of her.


1 /10 Remembering

As of 2021, it has been 25 years since Amber Hagerman’s abduction and murder, and the killer still has not been found.

Her case remains the ultimate unsolved crime in child abduction, as it led to the implementation of a government system to prevent future tragedies like hers from occurring.

Some criminals occasionally get away with it, too, but reducing their success thanks to community efforts can’t be understated.

Police and federal agents are still looking for information to bring peace to Amber’s family and conclude her tragic story.

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