THE TRAGIC 1996 death of Amber Hagerman is still remembered to this day as one of the most high-profile child abduction cases in history.
Who was Amber Hagerman?
Amber Hagerman was a nine-year-old girl who was abducted while riding her pink bike in Arlington, Texas, on January 13, 1996.
At the time, she was riding with her younger brother, Ricky, in an abandoned Winn-Dixie parking lot but they got separated after he decided to ride back to their grandparent’s home.
Who killed Amber Hagerman?
While the case might be cold, police are still searching and have not given up.
“This is still an open, on-going murder investigation,” lead investigator Det Grant Gildon said in 2021, via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We want to solve it. We want to get answers for the family.”
At the time of the kidnapping, the suspect was described as a white or Hispanic male, in his 20s or 30s with dark hair. This description has led police to believe that he was a local familiar with the area.
“Based on the direction of travel when they left [the Winn-Dixie] and then based on her being found in Arlington, being abducted in Arlington and just being in that spot, the question has always been, did somebody have a connection with that area where the abduction was?” Arlington Police Sgt Grant Gildon told PEOPLE in 2022
“It’s a very secluded area where her body was found. We do believe you’d have to be somewhat familiar with that area to know where that creek is,” he added.
“Was there a connection with that location? And was it someone who had a reason for turning back to the center of town? The thought has always been that the easiest way to get out of the area would’ve been to go to Highway 360.”
Over the years, Amber’s story has been told several times and will now be the subject of the Peacock documentary Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert, which is set to premiere on January 17, 2023.
What is an Amber Alert?
Shortly after Amber’s disappearance, Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to help develop an early warning system to help find children who had been abducted.
The alerts are now sent out in all 50 states when there is “reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.”
Authorities must also believe the child is in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.”
Essentially, the emergency alert is meant to send out information to the public in hopes of finding missing children.
“It’s a shame my daughter had to be butchered and had to go through what she went through for us to have the Amber Alert, but I know she would be proud of it,” Amber’s mother, Donna Williams told Yahoo! News in 2016.