In 1996, a 9-year-old girl was taken from her pink bike and killed. One month later, Amber’s mother, Donna Williams, went to her daughter’s elementary school in Arlington, Texas, to present a new playground in Amber’s name and comfort her young classmates who didn’t understand why she had died.
Her eyes went right to Amber’s empty desk and the “Amber Museum” that her third-grade class had decorated with hearts, ribbons, and a big picture of their classmate and friend, Amber, who had brown hair and blue eyes.
When Amber Hagerman was taken from her home on January 13, 1996, she was only nine years old.
On a fateful Saturday afternoon in January 1996, Amber Hagerman and her younger brother Ricky were riding their bikes in the parking lot of an old Winn-Dixie grocery store at Abrams Street and Browning Drive in Arlington, Texas, just a few blocks from their grandmother’s house.
Ricky, who was only five years old at the time, left early to ride his bike back to his grandmother’s house, while Amber stayed behind to ride her bike some more. Minutes later, she pulled away from her bike against her will and was put into the front seat of a pickup truck. She was only 9 at the time.
An old retired machinist named Jim Kevil saw the kidnapping from his backyard and called the police right away. Based on what Kevil said, the suspect was thought to be a Caucasian or Hispanic man in his twenties or forties who stood less than six feet tall and had a medium build.
“I saw Amber ride back and forth. She was all alone. I saw a black pickup truck. He stopped, jumped out of the car, and grabbed her. Jim Kevil told CBS News, “When she screamed, I thought the police should know about it, so I called them.”
Even though the case didn’t give the police any solid leads, they thought the suspect was a local man because he took Amber on a familiar route and she was later found in the same area.
What We Know Now About the Murder of Amber Hagerman
An AP report states that four days after Amber’s abduction, her body was found by a man walking his dog in a stream not far from the murder location. Her death has been ruled a homicide due to cuts to the neck. Local officials are looking into the murder of Amber, but thus yet no suspects have been identified.
Authorities said that at the time of Amber’s kidnapping, a self-service laundromat in the same parking lot was crowded with customers, many of whom were in the country illegally and fled when they noticed the patrol vehicles approaching.
The police tried to use the reward as an incentive by assuring the community that no one would be deported if they came forward, but no one did. The case sent shockwaves across the neighborhood and garnered extensive media coverage.
The tragedy prompted media outlets in the Dallas–Fort Worth area to openly broadcast “Amber Alert” messages regarding missing and abducted children. The system quickly spread to other areas of Texas and other states, and the United States Department of Justice eventually made it a nationwide initiative.
Concluding Thoughts on the Murder of Amber Hagerman
In response to Amber’s kidnapping and death, the AMBER Alert System (an acronym for “America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response”) was created in 2000. The Dallas Amber Plan was formed in 1997 before it became legislation.
It allows authorities and the media to quickly disseminate information about a missing child and solicit the public’s assistance in locating the kidnapper. Diana Simone, a Fort Worth mother, came up with the idea for the system.
She’d contacted a local radio station, questioning why broadcasters issued severe weather alerts but not those for a stolen child.
The Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act, which was enacted in response to the AMBER Alert, amended United States federal law to “apply prohibitions and punishments for severe sexual abuse of a child under age 12.”
Why did someone take the life of Amber Hagerman?
When Amber’s body was discovered, the police switched their missing person’s inquiry to a murder investigation, but so far they have had no success in identifying or apprehending the killer. The police have not given up their hunt, even if the case is old.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2021, the leading detective on the case, Det. Grant Gildon, said, “This is still an active, pending murder investigation.” To put it simply, we intend to find a solution.
For the sake of the family, we want information. The kidnapper was characterized as a white or Hispanic man in his twenties or thirties with dark hair at the time. The cops think he was a local since he fits their description of a resident.
“Based on the direction of travel when they left [the Winn-Dixie] and then based on the fact that she was recovered in Arlington, being taken in Arlington, and simply being in that position,” he said, “the issue has always been, did anyone have a relationship with that region where the kidnapping happened?”
During an interview with People in 2022, Arlington Police Sergeant Grant Gildon said “Where her corpse was discovered is a pretty remote spot. We agree that some familiarity with the region is required to find that watercourse “Additionally, he remarked.
“Does this place have any significance? Did he or she have a specific cause for returning to the hub of activity? Highway 360 was assumed to be the most direct route out of the area.”
After having her tale repeated on several occasions, Amber will be the focus of a new documentary called Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert, premiering on the Peacock network on January 17, 2023.