Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Amber Hagerman

Alerts That Worked

As more states joined the Amber System over the past decade, the number of children recovered rose sharplyfrom eight in 1999 to 26 in 2002 to 72 in 2003.

It has turned out that automobile descriptions and license numbers often are the most valuable information in successful Amber Alerts. Among recent examples:

Katron Walker
Katron Walker

In June 2006, two toddlers were taken from their grandparents by the children's father, Katron Walker. An Amber Alert was issued because the man had threatened violence. A citizen who saw the alert on television spotted the suspect's car near a lake and called police. Walker stabbed to death one of his sons, but the other child was safely recovered.

Walker's children

Mary Winkler, accused of murdering her preacher husband in Tennessee in March 2006, was apprehended two days after the shooting when a police officer in Orange Beach, Ala., identified her van from an Amber Alert. The couple's three children were found unhurt in the van.

The Winkler Family
The Winkler Family

In November 2005, an adult sex offender abducted a teenage girl in Hialeah, Fla. An Amber Alert was announced on electronic highway signs in the state, and a motorist who saw the alert spotted the car traveling in front of him. Police stopped the offender, who released the girl before killing himself.

In January 2004, an adolescent girl was abducted by her uncle in Baltimore. A regional Amber Alert was issued, and three separate motorists called authorities after seeing the suspect's car near Stafford, Va. He was arrested, and the girl was rescued.

In May 2003, an 11-year-old girl in St. Cloud, Minn., was abducted by a 21-year-old houseguest. An Amber Alert was issued in several states, including Utah, where the man had ties. A Utah state trooper who saw the alert spotted the suspect's car and arrested him. The girl was returned home.


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