An Amber Alert was never issued in the case of missing child Kyron Horman, according to KEZI News. As per federal guidelines, the case did not qualify for Amber Alert status and, although there has been a huge outcry over the fact that one wasn’t issued for Kyron Horman, authorities define their cases by local, state, and federal legal standards, then proceed accordingly. In the case of young Kyron, his became a missing persons case based on the details of his disappearance and the evidence gathered, which still has not been completely made public.
The 7-year-old Oregon student disappeared on June 4, and was reported missing at 3:45 p.m. when he didn’t get off the bus, and after his stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman, checked with the school and found out he had been marked absent for the day. But, Kyron had been at school. He had arrived early at Skyline Elementary School in Portland with his stepmother for a science fair. She told investigators that she said good-bye and hugged the child at around 8:45 a.m., and watched him walk toward his classroom before she turned and left for home. This coincides with the last time Kyron Horman was seen, although police have not released information regarding whether or not he was seen with another individual by those witnesses that place him outside the classroom at around 9 a.m..
Police immediately began a cursory search of the school and home of the missing boy. After a couple hours, Multnomah County officials made the decision to bring in the FBI and call in local and state reinforcements as well to help in the search.
But, an Amber Alert was not issued. Although they have come under considerable criticism, which often happens in missing children cases where an Amber Alert is not issued, Multnomah County officials cited specific guidelines as the reason Kyron Horman’s case never received Amber Alert status.
According to the guidelines adopted by the state of Oregon, for the Oregon State Police to issue an Amber Alert, four criteria must be met:
1) Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place.
2) It must be determined that the child must be at risk of serious injury or death.
3) There must be sufficient information regarding the child, a captor, or a captor’s vehicle to issue an alert.
4) Said child must be 17 years old or younger for alert to be issued.
Kyron’s case only met one of the preceding guidelines: He was under the age of 18.
Although missing for nearly two weeks, Kyron is considered an “endangered missing child.” Multnomah County officials have been extremely reticent with details regarding the case, and it is generally assumed that they still have found no evidence to support the theory that the second-grader was abducted. The fact that his status has been changed to “endangered” signifies that law enforcement does believe the 7-year-old could possibly be in harm’s way.
Multnomah County authorities shifted the focus of the case to that of a criminal investigation Sunday, nine days after the student went missing.
Kyron Horman’s case is not the only investigation where an Amber Alert was not issued, and the decision was questioned. However, each case indicates the same abduction guideline.
When Sandra Cantu was reported missing from her Tracy, Calif., home in March 2009, an Amber Alert was never issued because there was no evidence to support that she had been abducted. She was later found stuffed into a black suitcase at the bottom of an irrigation pond, and 29-year-old Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby was subsequently arrested for her kidnapping and murder. Huckaby was eventually sentenced to life in prison after she surprisingly altered her not guilty plea to guilty in March 2010.
Records indicate that Sandra Cantu died within a few hours after being abducted. An Amber Alert in her case, unfortunately, would have probably made no difference. But, proponents of a more inclusive Amber Alert system maintain that, since time is a crucial element in recovery of the missing children, the potential for recovery is enhanced due to public awareness alone.
Although much of the public often labors under a general misconception that an Amber Alert is to be issued whenever a child is missing, that is not what the Amber Alert program was designed to address. It was set up as a safeguard against kidnappers and abductors who often do not stay in the general vicinity of their crime, and to alert the public in order to generate leads to quickly recover the abducted child.
Since Amber Alerts are seen by most as an efficient method of notifying the public abut missing children, many that are familiar with the guidelines believe they should be altered to include any and all missing children, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. Cases like Kyron Horman’s and Sandra Cantu’s might generate enough support for such a change.
Despite there not being an Amber Alert, Kyron’s case has received considerable law enforcement and media attention. Still, many ponder if the case might have already been closed and the second-grader found, had authorities been able to issue an Amber Alert and make the public aware and, therefore, more vigilant.