|Born||November 25, 1986
|Died||January 15, 1996 (aged 9)
Amber Hagerman (November 25, 1986 â€“ January 15, 1996) was a young girl who became a victim of an abduction and murder. On January 13, 1996, she was riding her bike near her grandparents' home in Arlington, Texas, and was kidnapped soon thereafter. Her murder would later inspire the creation of the AMBER Alert system.
On January 13, 1991, a man in a black pickup truck abducted Amber, who was riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX. A witness, Jimmie Kevil, was able to provide police with a cursory description of both the abductor and his vehicle. According to Jimmie, the man in the pickup stopped in the parking lot of the abandoned grocery store where Amber was playing, sprinted to her, and dragged her into his truck. As Jimmie was relating his observations to the police, Amber's grandfather, Jimmy Whitson, drove up, looking for the child. Amber was the second child in her family to have been kidnapped. Her father's two-day-old-granddaughter was abducted in 1991 and recovered safely 10 hours later.
Arlington police began searching for Amber immediately. Volunteers searched for Amber Hagerman for several days, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated. Four days after her abduction, a man walking his dog found Amber's corpse in a creek bed. An autopsy revealed that her throat had been cut. She had been alive two whole days before being killed. Although a $75,000 reward was offered for information leading to Amber's killer, he was never found. The task force investigating Amber's murder was dissolved in June 1997.
On April 20, 2009, a group of college students with Bauder College's Cold Case Investigative Research Institute began a year-long pursuit to solve the case. The volunteers have also reviewed other high-profile cold-cases such as Chandra Levy. The AMBER alert was later founded in memory of Amber Hagerman and in hopes that any other children who get abducted would be found.
Within days, Hagerman's mother, Donna Norris, was "calling for tougher laws governing sex offenders". Whitson testified in front of the U.S. Congress in June, asking legislators to create a nationwide registry of sex offenders. Representative Martin Frost, the Congressman who represents Whitson's district, proposed an "Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act". Among the sections of the bill was one that would create a national sex offender registry. Both of Hagerman's parents were present when President Bill Clinton signed into law the bill creating the national sex offender register. Whitson and Richard Hagerman then began collecting signatures in Texas, which they planned to present to then-Governor George W. Bush as a sign that people wanted more stringent laws for sex offenders.
The first AMBER Alert trial was run in 1996 at KRLD Radio Studio at the Ball Park in Arlington, TX. In October 2000, the United States House of Representatives adopted H.R. 605 which encouraged communities nationwide to implement the AMBER Plan. In April 2003, President George W. Bush signed the AMBER Alert legislation, making it a national program.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assists in the implementation of AMBER Alerts.
A comic book entitled Amber Hagerman Deserves Justice: A Night Owl Story was issued by Wham Bang Comics in 2009. It tells the story of Amber and the investigation into her murder.