An abducted Utah woman has been found and the suspect arrested after police mistook the victim for a child and issued an AMBER Alert. Many have asked why emergency alerts are not issued more often for adults at risk.
There are different types of emergency alerts, each of which must meet certain criteria. AMBER Alerts are intended for children 17 years of age and under, who are abducted and in danger. Money Alerts are intended for endangered adults aged 60 and over who have been diagnosed with dementia.
This leaves a void for adults between the ages of 18 and 59.
There is another type of alert that would cover these cases, but Utah does not use them.
The South Salt Lake kidnapping was filmed on Friday night. The victim was found and the suspect arrested, in part because of what investigators did not know.
“We didn’t have the name or the date of birth, and we were trying to get the information out about an AMBER alert,” said Danielle Croyle, spokesperson for the South Salt Lake Police Department.
The police triggered the AMBER alert thinking the victim was a teenage girl. If they had known that she was actually a tiny woman in her thirties, they couldn’t have sounded the alert that helped save her.
âIt was very successful. It helped investigators refine those leads,â Croyle said.
What about other adults who are kidnapped or missing?
“Missing adults, I see it all the time. That’s what we do a lot,” said Jason Jensen, private investigator and co-founder of the Cold Case Coalition.
âWhen adults go missing, there is no system in place in Utah,â he said.
Jensen searches for missing persons, including those who fall between the gaps in the AMBER and Silver Alerts.
“Why not cover everyone in between, if there is an actual kidnapping?” ” He asked.
In Utah, some missing adults may receive an endangered disappearance notice, which notifies law enforcement and the media, but no alerts are sent to phones.
âWhen someone disappears, they disappear. The system doesn’t catch up with you until it’s too late,â Jensen said.
There is another option, Ashanti Alerts. They are named after 19-year-old Ashanti Bille, who was kidnapped and killed in Virginia in 2017. The alerts help locate missing adults like Ashanti, who are beyond the reach of other emergency alerts.
The network was promulgated by former President Donald Trump in 2018, but states must join the pilot program. Utah did not go for the national program.
Jensen said adult kidnappings like Friday night’s are rare, but an adult alert system is worth discussing.
âWould it hurt if we added them to the mix? I would encourage him,â he said.
One concern about the increase in the number of alerts is that excessive use could desensitize the public to their messages.
KUTV did not immediately receive a response from the Utah Department of Public Safety indicating whether there was any interest in establishing the Ashanti Alert network in Utah.