In January 1996, nine year old Amber Hagerman was riding her bicycle when a neighbor heard the girl scream. The neighbor saw a man pull Amber off her bike, throw her into the front seat of his pickup truck, and drive away at a high speed. The neighbor called police and provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle, but couldn't recall much else. Arlington, TX police and the FBI interviewed other neighbors and searched for the suspect and vehicle. Local radio and TV stations covered the story in their regular newscasts. Four days later, Amber's body was found in a drainage ditch four miles away. Her throat had been cut. Her kidnapping and murder remain unsolved.
A concerned citizen contacted a Dallas, TX radio station suggesting the idea that Dallas radio stations should repeat news bulletins about abducted children just like they do severe weather warnings. The idea was presented to the general managers of the radio stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They agreed that such a program would provide an important public service and might help save the life of a child.
The Dallas Amber Plan was started in July 1997 to help safely recover missing children that police believe have been abducted. Since then, the program has successfully recovered eight children and expanded to other cities and states nationwide.
Although the Amber Plan is named after Amber Hagerman, this national program is dedicated to all children nationwide who've been abducted. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 262,100 children are abducted every year. Specifically, 58,200 are non-family abductions and 203,900 are family abductions.
The Amber Alert Plan was launched in Ohio on January 1, 2003.