Amber Alerts and social media help bring missing children home - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Amber Alerts and social media help bring missing children home

Pictures of Abigail Bertholf and the suspect circulated on Facebook, allowing those in the Heartland to know who to keep their eyes out for. Pictures of Abigail Bertholf and the suspect circulated on Facebook, allowing those in the Heartland to know who to keep their eyes out for.
The plan of the alert is to bring together communities and law enforcement to recover a missing child quickly and safely. The plan of the alert is to bring together communities and law enforcement to recover a missing child quickly and safely.
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) -

If you have Facebook friends in the Heartland, most likely you saw posts about the missing Butler County girl Wednesday.

Pictures of Abigail Bertholf and the suspect circulated on Facebook, allowing those in the Heartland to know who to keep their eyes out for.

Cape Girardeau Police Officer Darin Hickey said social media helps get information out instantly. He said that information helps law enforcement in the search for a missing child.

"Once it started progressing I constantly was posting to Facebook statuses and pictures asking for help, and you know throughout the course of the day I had so many people like and share my pictures, along with springs, you know at the end of the day, when we found out she was safe, we were still posting pictures of all the outcome, just glad she made it home safe because it could have been a different story," said Ashley Smith, a family friend.

"When you get these kinds of calls early in the morning, it just makes you sick, not in our small community, we're not used to this kind of thing, and when this happens we tend to fear the worst, and I think that there's some of us still in shock over this and the outcome, the kind of shock that you want to be in," said Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

You can find Amber Alerts on your local TV and radio stations, highway signs, and lottery tickets.

"From the news media and the Amber Alert I think the press were just getting to him so much that the noose was tightening up, that he had nowhere to go," said Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley.

"We're certainly glad, we're thankful to the public for all their help we tried to pull out every stop possible through social media, using the Amber Alert system using the aircraft, using every available officer that every department had so that we could bring it to this outcome so just like the chief said there was too much pressure for the suspect," said Dobbs.

Law enforcement doesn't want to issue Amber Alerts too often so people don't become desensitized.

There are recommendations to issue an alert:

- a child is under 17-years-old

- law enforcement confirms a child was abducted

- there's a physical description of the missing child, suspect, and/or suspect's vehicle

- evidence the child is in danger of injury or death

If you get some kind of alert, but wonder if it's legitimate, you can contact your local law enforcement, or search the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website database of missing children here.

Alerts can be seen across state lines. Law enforcement can ask other states specifically to issue an alert if they have reason to believe the child was taken to a specific state.

Government data shows Amber Alerts have helped save the lives of almost 600 children. 90 percent of those recoveries have been since October 2002 when a coordinator was designated.

Government data shows in some cases, suspects have released an abducted child once he or she heard there was an Amber Alert issued.

The plan of the alert is to bring together communities and law enforcement to recover a missing child quickly and safely.

You can also find more information at the Amber Alert website here.

 Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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