She Inspired Amber Alerts – 26 Years Later, Her Killer Is Still Unknown
If you have a phone, you've received Amber Alerts - those notifications about missing and endangered children that we also see on highway signs.
They have been around over 25 years, and now when a person goes missing in the state, the Texas Department of Public Safety can activate six different alerts to help safely locate the person at the center of the emergency.
However, you might not know the tragic story behind Amber Alerts, or the fact that there is still no justice for the girl who inspired the system, since her murderer has never been found.
Who Was Amber Hagerman?
Amber Hagerman would be 36 this year if she hadn't been abducted and murdered in an Arlington, Texas parking lot 26 years ago.
Because of the emergency alert system named after her, over 1,000 abducted children have been successfully recovered and brought home safely, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
However, her murder remains unsolved to this day.
After the 9-year-old girl's brutal killing, area broadcasters and law enforcement created the AMBER Alert system. AMBER stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.
What Happened to Amber Hagerman?
On January 13, 1996, Amber Hagerman left her grandmother's home to ride bikes with her younger brother in an abandoned Winn-Dixie parking lot nearby. He was ready to leave, but she wanted to keep riding, so he went back alone.
Despite local citizens and over 50 law enforcement officials searching for Amber, there was no trace of her to be found. Her body was discovered five days later in a creek with her throat slit, four miles from the parking lot where she was taken.
An autopsy later revealed that Amber was kept alive for two days after being taken. Before she died, she was beaten and sexually assaulted. The cause of death was determined to be cut wounds to the throat.
How Amber Alerts Were Created
Texas mom Diana Simone couldn't stop thinking about how Amber's kidnapper killed her and then disappeared without a trace.
Simone called a local radio station with her idea of an emergency system that would be set up so that when a 911 call was placed, radio stations would immediately interrupt programming to broadcast the alert. The first successful recovery due to an AMBER Alert was in 1998, when 8-week-old Rae Leigh Bradbury was taken by her babysitter.
U.S. Representative Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) and Representative Martin Frost (D-TX) at a news conference introducing the National AMBER Alert Network Act September 5, 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
The program is currently being used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 22 other countries.
Amber Hagerman's Killer Remains Unknown
The case has generated more than 7,000 leads, which were investigated, but they still have no suspect, according to missingkids.org.