Arlington Commemorates 25th Anniversary of Amber Hagerman Case, Asks Public for Tips
By Arlington Police Department
Posted on January 13, 2021, January 13, 2021

Her story is known across the globe. Her disappearance led to the creation of an alert system that has saved hundreds of children worldwide. But 25 years after Amber Hagerman was abducted from an Arlington, Texas parking lot, her case remains unsolved.

"I would love to be able to give [Amber's mother] Donna and the rest of the members of her family the answer to the question they want to know -- and bring that person to justice," said Sergeant Ben Lopez, a member of the original task force that investigated the case and a former homicide detective who served as its lead detective for years.

On the afternoon of January 13, 1996, 9-year-old Amber rode her bike from her grandmother's home in East Arlington to the nearby parking lot of a vacant grocery store in the 1600 block of E. Abram Street.

The sole witness who has come forward with information told investigators he saw a man get out of a black pickup truck, grab Amber from her bike, and force her into his vehicle as she kicked and screamed. As the witness headed inside to call 911, he saw the pickup pull out of the parking lot and head west on Abram Street.

Officers and community members spent the next several days searching for Amber. Tragically, on the night of January 17, 1996, her body was found in a rain-swollen creek approximately four miles from where she was taken.

"She loved school. She loved riding her bicycle, she loved being a little mommy to her little brother," said Amber's mother Donna Williams. "I miss her every day and she was just so full of life."

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her disappearance, Arlington Police and members of Amber's family spoke with the media, in hopes of generating new leads in the case.

"Our detectives believe that someone out there still has knowledge of this horrific crime," said Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye. "We need them to come forward."

“To Amber’s killer, I’m asking you today, please turn yourself in," said Williams. "Give Amber justice. Amber needs justice deeply.”

To date, the Arlington Police Department has received and investigated more than 7,000 tips related to the case.

"In addition to following up on each of those tips, I conduct a yearly audit of all evidence to analyze what we have and how it can be used," said Detective Grant Gildon, who is the homicide detective currently assigned to the case. "On a yearly basis, I talk with all the major labs around the country to see if there are any new technologies or anything we could possibly be trying with the evidence we have. And that's what's led to some new developments where we can try some things this year."

Later this year, the department plans to submit multiple pieces of evidence for testing, in hopes that new technologies can produce a DNA profile from it.

In the meantime, detectives continue to ask the public for any and all tips.

"All this time, we've only had one witness," said Sgt. Lopez. "That's why we're pleading if there's anyone out there that has information -- even if they think it's just a small bit of information -- it may be the lead we need to break this."

Investigators have long believed there may have been other witnesses in the area at the time who have not come forward out of concerns over their legal status in the country. Arlington Police want to assure those individuals the department has no interest in their immigration status or pursuing deportation if they speak to detectives.

Anyone with information can call the tip line dedicated to this case at (817) 575-8832. Oak Farms Dairy has agreed to provide a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

The suspect is described as a White or Hispanic male in his 20's or 30s (as of 1996), under 6' tall with a medium build and brown or black hair.

The suspect vehicle is described as a black 1980's or 1990's full-size, fleet side pickup truck with a short wheel base, single cab, non-sliding clear rear window, no chrome, no striping, and no visible damage.

Amber's case was the inspiration for the AMBER Alert system, which is now used worldwide to find children who have been abducted. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which tracks AMBER Alert incidents nationwide, the system has led to the successful recovery of at least 1,029 children.

"I'm very, very proud of the AMBER Alert system," said Williams. "It's saved children's lives. It's helped bring children back to mommy and daddy. It's another legacy for my daughter, that she did not die in vain. She is still taking care of our little children like she did when she was here."

Remembering Amber Hagerman on the 25th anniversary of her disappearance in Arlington.

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