Abduction and Murder of Child in 1996 was the Inspiration for the Amber Alert System

Amber Hagerman was only riding her bike alone for a few minutes when abducted from a parking lot

Megan Ashley


Amber Hagerman (Source)

On January 13, 1996, in Arlington, Texas, Amber Hagerman was riding her new pink and white bicycle she had just gotten for Christmas. In the parking lot of an abandoned Winn-Dixie grocery store, the nine-year-old Girl Scout was with her five-year-old little brother, Ricky.

They were playing down the road from their grandmother’s house when apparently Ricky remembered they were only supposed to go around the block and headed back home. Amber stayed and continued to play around the parking lot. It was a Saturday, and they were at their grandparents' that day because their mother was being interviewed for a local news special about families that successfully got off welfare and rejoined the workforce.

Amber and Ricky left their grandparent’s home around 3:10 PM, with Ricky returning home a while after without his sister. The family soon went looking for Amber, and when they arrived at the parking lot, they saw a handful of police officers surrounding Amber’s bike. They were told that “someone in the community saw something.” Amber had been abducted.


A witness, Jim Kevil, seventy-eight at the time, and a retired police officer, said he saw Amber riding alone when he saw a black pick-up truck. “He pulled up, jumped out, and grabbed her. When she screamed, I figured the police ought to know about it, so I called them.”

Jim gave a description of the abductor. He said it was a man, caucasian or Hispanic, in his 20s or 30s, shorter than 6 feet, medium build with dark hair. He was driving a black pick-up truck with no markings or chrome and seemed to be in clean working condition. He noted the time of the abduction as 3:18 PM, and Amber had only been alone for a few minutes.

Law enforcement, the FBI, and locals began a massive search for Amber, and her abduction made national news. But despite the nationwide