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New Peacock Doc 'Amber: The Girl Behind The Alert' Explores Cold Case Behind The Life-Saving Service
The AMBER Alert system was named for Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996. A new Peacock documentary explores both the cold case and the alert system it inspired.
A new Peacock documentary takes a fresh look at the cold case behind the missing children alerts you get on your phone and see on highway signs.
"Amber: The Girl Behind The Alert," which premieres on Peacock Jan. 17, looks at the sad origins of the AMBER Alert, the nationwide system designed to rapidly inform the public about missing and endangered children.
It was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped from the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store in Arlington, Texas on Jan. 13, 1996, NBC News reported. An elderly neighbor witnessed a white or Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s physically pick Amber up off her pink bicycle and throw her in a black, full-size fleetside single-cab black pickup with a short wheelbase, the Dallas Morning News reported. The witness, Jimmie Kevil — who has since passed away — said he saw Amber kicking and screaming and called 911.
Her body was found four days later in a creek eight miles from her abduction site by a man walking his dog, the Associated Press reported at the time. Police said then they believed her body had been dumped upstream and washed north by heavy thunderstorms.
She had no clothes and her throat had been slit. No arrests were ever made in the case.
Police have refused to reveal what physical evidence was recovered in the case, the Morning News reported, in an effort to prevent false confessions, but said that they hope genealogical DNA analysis might yet solve the crime.
After her body was found, a woman named Diana Simone called her local radio station and asked if they could, in the future, interrupt programming to broadcast information about cases similar to Amber's, PEOPLE reported, similar to the existing emergency broadcast system. She later requested that, if implemented, it be named "Amber's Plan."
Later in 1996, the Dallas Fort-Worth Broadcasters put together a coordinated system with local law enforcement to do exactly what Simone had suggested, NBC News reported. It was eventually adopted nationwide and is known as the AMBER Alert System, which stands for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response."
"The AMBER Alert has brought more than 1,000 children home safely, but after more than 25 years Amber’s case remains unsolved," said Elizabeth Fisher, the executive producer of the Peacock documentary said in a press release.
The documentary includes a new interview with Amber Hagerman's mother, Donna Williams, more information about the investigation and footage captured by a news crew that had been coincidentally following Williams and her children — Amber and brother Ricky Hagerman — before the murder. (That footage was for a segment, scheduled to be aired on Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA, about families who had successfully transitioned off welfare benefits, according to WFAA's parent company Cox Media. It was released in 1997 as part of an hour-long documentary called "After Amber.")
See "Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert" when it premieres on Peacock Jan. 17.