The family of Gina DeJesus has expressed anger that authorities failed to issue an Amber Alert when she went missing in 2004.
Police said that no Amber Alert was issued the day DeJesus failed to come home from school in April of 2004, because no one witnessed her abduction. Later, two classmates revealed they saw her talking with an older man earlier in the day.
Then, it came to light that another teenager, Amanda Berry, had disappeared the previous spring just six blocks from where DeJesus was last seen.
Ohio officials said that an Amber Alert must include as much descriptive information as possible, not only about the abducted child, but also about the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle.
“Amber Alerts are for witnessed abducted children, that their life is considered at risk of serious harm or death,” said Brent Currence with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Cleveland police said that the alerts must be reserved in cases in which danger is imminent and the public can be of help in locating the suspect and a child.
Currence said that there are other ways to keep the public informed about missing people.
Envelopes, featuring the pictures of both Amanda Berry and DeJesus were mailed to more than 200,000 Ohioans. There also are Endangered Missing Child Alerts that police can issue.
“The only difference between an Amber Alert and an Endangered Missing Child Alert is the emergency alert system is not used,” Currence said.
DeJesus’ father, Felix, said in 2006 that he believed the public would listen even if Amber Alerts become routine.
“The Amber Alert should work for any missing child,” said Felix DeJesus in 2006. “It doesn’t have to be an abduction. Whether it’s an abduction or a runaway, a child needs to be found. We need to change this law.”
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