Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Abduction of Carlie Brucia

Carlie's Legacy

Carlie Brucia
Carlie Brucia

After Carlie Brucia was raped and murdered, the Manatee County sheriff's department tacitly acknowledged that an Amber Alert might have helped saved the girl's life.

The national system to quickly alert the media and public about missing children is said to have led to the recovery of 200 individuals.

Some jurisdictions have been criticized for using too many alerts, often in cases that involve runaways or parental custody disputes. Officials fear that the public will become numb by too many Amber Alerts.

At a minimum, a federal standard suggests that before an Amber Alert is issued law enforcers must confirm that an abduction of someone 17 or younger has occurred; that the child or teen is at serious risk, and that there is sufficient descriptive information of the child, the captor or the captor's vehicle.

Carlie Brucia did not qualify for an Amber Alert under those criteria.

Yet various local jurisdictions often issue alerts even in cases where the standards are not met.

Manatee County will now be one of them.

Sheriff Charlie Wells changed policy on media notification in cases like that of Carlie Brucia. He ordered his department to notify the local media immediately when parents believe their missing children are in danger.

Sheriff William Balkwill
Sheriff William Balkwill

Such cases will not qualify for a statewide or national Amber Alert, but the local media will be alerted and a detective will be assigned, said Maj. Connie Shingledecker.

She said, "My feeling is, always err on the side of caution."

Florida's probation officers are now taking the same approach.

A new, zero-tolerance policy toward probation violators has also taken hold in the state. County jail populations have swelled as a result. 

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