Utah AMBER Alert History
(1) June 5, 2002
The Salt Lake City Police issued Utah’s first statewide child abduction alert after a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped at knife point from her bedroom. The alert prompted worldwide attention about the abduction and the relatively new child abduction alert plan. Sandy City Police found the girl nine months later after some citizens spotted her walking on the street with her alleged abductors. The alert was known then as the Rachael Alert, in memory of Rachael Runyan, a three-year-old Sunset, Utah girl who was kidnapped and murdered in 1982. The alert’s name was later changed to the AMBER Alert to avoid confusion. Utah now gives the Rachael Runyan Award to honor citizens who help in the recovery of an abducted child.
(2) January 29, 2003
The Salt Lake City Police issued an alert after a 3-year-old boy was taken by some acquaintances of his mother and authorities received information that the child was in danger. After the alert went out, the public started flooding the police with tips about the suspects. Jeff Salt was driving to a meeting that same morning and saw “CHILD ABDUCTION ALERT” flashing on the electronic highway signs. Salt spotted the suspects and hour later as they were walking into the YWCA. Both Salt and YWCA employees called police and the baby was recovered less than five hours after the alert went out. This was the first time that the alert incorporated electronic highway signs, a highway advisory radio message, flyers and the UDOT Commuterlink website. Jeff Salt later received the Rachael Runyan Award.
(3) May 7, 2003
The Provo Police Department issued an alert for an 11-year-old girl after receiving information from police in St. Cloud, Minnesota that a 21-year-old man may be heading to Provo with the girl. Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Randall Richey noticed the alert on the laptop computer in his car and started figuring out how long it would take someone to travel from Minnesota to Utah. While he was waiting for the results, he spotted the suspect’s car. The suspect was arrested and the child was recovered less than 45 minutes after the alert was issued in Utah. This was the first time that the alert went out as an AMBER Alert. Richey was later honored with the Rachael Runyan Award.
(4) May 26, 2003
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert after a 19-month-old girl was taken by her grandmother, who was suffering from mental illness and had not taken her medication. The grandmother was found less than 10 hours later in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She said the girl was lost in the waters of the Snake River and authorities believe the child had drowned. This was the first time an AMBER Alert had been issued in Utah to find a child who had allegedly been abducted by a family member. This was also the first time that the plan fully used private electronic business signs.
(5) January 21, 2004
Sandy Police issued an AMBER Alert after a woman’s car was stolen with her 6-week-old daughter in the backseat of the vehicle. Within 25 minutes, the AMBER Alert was being disseminated on highway message signs, the Commuterlink web page, 511 traffic information line and through the media. Shane Wilkinson saw the alert on TV and went out and found the car within minutes at the Jordan Commons parking lot. The baby was safely sleeping in the back of the car. The child was found less than an hour after the vehicle had been stolen. Thirty minutes later the alleged kidnapper called the mother and told her where to find the car. This was the first time that the alert was broadcast over the Utah Criminal Justice Information System. The new system sends the alerts instantly to law enforcement officers, broadcasters and the public through pagers, cell phones, computers or any text message device. Shane Wilkinson was later honored with the Rachael Runyan Award.
(6) January 27, 2004
Harrisville Police issued an AMBER Alert after a mother reported that her 5-year-old daughter had been abducted by her ex-husband and he had threatened to “go out in style” if anyone tried to stop him. Harrisville authorities believed the child was in danger after the suspect refused police orders to return the girl back home. The suspect and the girl were recovered in Rawlins, Wyoming less than four and a half hours after the alert was initiated. This was the quickest fully-implemented AMBER Alert issued in Utah. This was also the first alert issued by Wyoming and it went out less than 36 hours after the state had implemented its AMBER Alert Plan.
(7) July 26, 2004
The Utah Department of Public Safety issued an alert for a 14-year-old girl from Fortville, Indiana. The girl had been missing for three days when the FBI in Indiana received new information that she was traveling through Utah with a 30-year-old Reno, Nevada man she had met on the Internet. The Utah Department of Public Safety sent out an Attempt To Locate notice to law enforcement on Monday at 6:30 p.m. Wendover police officers actually found the suspect and the victim near the Utah-Nevada border minutes before the alert was activated at 8:47 p.m. The alert was cancelled at 8:54 p.m and the victim was returned to her parents.
(8) October 7, 2004
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert for a 3-year-old boy after his father allegedly threatened to kill his son and himself. Motorists spotted the suspect’s vehicle an hour after the alert went out and began following the suspect’s vehicle. Deputies were able to arrest the suspect and recover the victim less than 90 minutes after the alert was issued. This was the first time Utah entered an AMBER Alert into the NCIC system using the new AMBER Alert flag. Tonia McPeak and Steve Garrett were later honored with Rachael Runyan Awards.
(9) January 2005
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert for a 3-year-old boy after a family friend with an extensive criminal history failed to deliver the child to his aunt’s home. The alert went out at 1:08 a.m. and detectives apprehended the suspect and recovered the child seven hours later at the suspect’s parents home. This is believed to be first alert that was translated and aired on Spanish radio stations. It was also the second time that Wyoming issued an alert for Utah.
(10) February 20, 2005
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert for a 7-year-old boy after his non-custodial father refused to bring the boy back to his grandparents unless he received some money. Salt Lake City Police arrested the suspect when he arrived at a grocery store parking lot to pick up the money. The suspect told police where the child was and he was safely recovered about 90 minutes after the AMBER Alert was initiated. This was the first AMBER Alert for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
(11) May 7, 2005
Taylorsville Police issued an AMBER Alert for a 5-year-old girl who had allegedly been taken by her mother’s drug-addicted fiancÚ. The suspect promised to bring the child home at noon and the mother had been notified by the bank that the suspect had been trying to forge her checks. Police were called at 7:23 p.m. and they became concerned about the suspect’s state of mind and the drop in temperature. They determined the child was in imminent danger and issued an AMBER Alert at 9:11 p.m. A woman heard the alert on the radio and called police after seeing the suspect’s car in a West Valley City grocery store parking lot. The suspect was arrested and the child was returned to her mother less than two hours after the alert went out.
(12) July 26, 2005
Salt Lake City Police initiated an AMBER Alert after a witness said she saw a man in his 30s violently force a kicking and screaming 8-year-old girl into his van. The van accelerated at such a rapid speed that the child fell back and hit the back of the van. The witness was able to provide details about the victim, the suspect and the vehicle with a partial license plate number. The alert was canceled July 29 after police were unable to determine whether anyone was abducted. Police later released an artist's rendering of the child and the suspect. This was the first time that a Utah law enforcement agency used "A Child is Missing" to notify residents of the alert by telephone.
(13) October 24, 2005
Taylorsville Police issued an AMBER Alert after a car thief stole the car a mother was driving with her six-week-old daughter in the backseat. The alert went up quickly on TV, radio, highway signs and cell phones and pagers. Taylorsville Police Detective Brett Miller found the car in an apartment complex parking lot with the baby sleeping inside 20 minutes after the alert went out. The suspect has not been found.
(14) December 30, 2005
The Box Elder County Sheriff's Office issued an AMBER Alert at 8:59 p.m. for a 12-year-old boy and his 7-year-old brother after they were allegedly kidnapped by their noncustodial mother in a stolen vehicle. Authorities feared the children were in imminent danger because the suspect allegedly suffers from psychotic schizophrenia and has a history of drug abuse and violence with other family members. Mike Butcher and his wife Chasity Angell saw the alert on TV and spotted the suspect the following morning. The couple called the Ivins City Police Department and followed the suspect's car. The mother was arrested and the children were recovered 2 minutes later.
(15) April 2006
The Provo Police Department issued an AMBER Alert after an estranged father allegedly kidnapped his 3 children and promised to "take them to heaven" by driving them off a cliff. The alert was activated at 8:13 p.m. for a 6-year-old boy, his 4-year-old brother and 20-month-old sister. The alert was cancelled 6 minutes later after Provo Police found the suspect and all of the children safe at Point of the Mountain. However, the father allegedly tried to drive his SUV off a cliff but the vehicle was high-centered. He has been charged with attempted homicide.
(16) July 17 and 23, 2006
The Salt Lake City Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 6:45 a.m. for a 5-year-old girl. Police fear she has been abducted because a man who was once accused of child sex abuse is seen in the area acting in a suspicious manner. The person of interest turns himself in shortly after the alert is issued and police reduce the AMBER Alert to an Endangered Person Advisory. Police issue an AMBER Alert again on July 23 after a witness says he saw the girl in a truck with a man in Farmington. The alert is cancelled after police find the truck and determine the girl in the truck was not the subject of the alert. Police arrest the victim's neighbor on July 24 and discover her body in his basement.
(17) December 28, 2006
The West Valley Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 11:10 p.m. for a 16-year-old girl who was kidnapped during a carjacking. Earlier in the evening the victim and her 19-year-old boyfriend agreed to give a woman and two men a ride. One of the passengers eventually pulled out a gun, pointed it at the male victim and hit him on the head with the gun and a small bat. The kidnappers told the male victim to get out of the car but ordered the female victim to stay with them. The kidnappers drove off in the stolen car and eventually released the female victim. The AMBER Alert was cancelled 8 minutes after it went out because police finally contacted the female victim on a cell phone and determined she was ok. The stolen car was found the next morning.
(18) April 13, 2007
Perry City Police issued an AMBER Alert for 5-month-old girl after she was taken by her 16-year-old mother. The suspect did not have custody of her baby because she had ran away from state custody in California and had been placed in foster care the night before in Utah. The child’s new foster mother says the suspect disappeared from Wal-Mart while they were attempting to get medication prescribed for her baby by emergency room doctors. Police believed the child was in imminent danger because the mother is mentally disabled and the baby had hyperextended arms, severe ear infections and open wounds from eczema all over her body. Police safely recovered the suspect and victim the following morning at a home in Clearfield. This may be the nation’s first AMBER Alert ever issued for a suspect who was once listed as the victim in an AMBER Alert. The suspect was 12-years-old when she was abducted by a 35-year-old man in California. This alert was also the first time that the EAS message originated from BCI.
(19) July 28, 2007
Salt Lake City Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 7-month-old boy after he was allegedly kidnapped by a 30-year-old man. Police initially received calls from witnesses that a man was beating up a woman by the highway. The victim’s mother told officers that the suspect was suicidal and threatened to stab her son. The suspect fled in the car belonging to the victim’s mother at a high rate of speed with the baby in the backseat. James Buckley saw the AMBER Alert on TV and called police after he saw the missing vehicle parked near his home with the flashers on. The alert was canceled after one hour and 14 minutes. The suspect was found the next day and has been charged with kidnapping and assault.
(20) August 24, 2007
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert for a five-year-old girl after she was allegedly kidnapped by her non-custodial mother and boyfriend. The suspects allegedly beat up the girl’s custodial grandmother and drove off with the victim in a stolen vehicle. Both suspects were arrested by Natural Resource officers the next day after they crashed their vehicle and attempted to get away by jumping into the bed of a pick-up truck. The suspects had left the girl with a hotel clerk in Evanston, Wyoming. A family member of the clerk saw the alert and told police where to find the victim. The five-year-old was found safe and returned to her grandmother. Both suspects have been charged with several felonies including aggravated kidnapping.
(21) January 3, 2008
Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert for a three-year-old girl after she was taken by her non-custodial mother. Detectives believed the child was in danger because she had been missing for four days and the victim’s mother is a heroin addict and had been charged before with child endangerment. The mother and child were staying with a couple when they saw the AMBER Alert on TV. Police received a call from the couple in the apartment and the suspect and victim were found at a nearby convenience store about an hour after the alert went out. Prosecutors have charged the mother with kidnapping.
(22) April 1, 2008
South Salt Lake Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 7-year-old girl at 9:51a.m. on April 1, 2008. The alert was issued almost 20 hours the victim was last seen leaving her home because police initially had no evidence she had been abducted. After an extensive search, investigators determined that the victim could not contact her family or searchers and an abduction was the most likely reason for her disappearance. South Salt Lake became the first agency to activate the statewide Child Abduction Response Team (CART) and the Salt Lake County regional CART. Ten hours after the AMBER Alert was issued an FBI search team found the body of the victim in the basement of a nearby apartment. The girl’s neighbor has been charged with homicide and child kidnapping.
(23) July 4, 2008
The Utah Department of Public Safety issued an AMBER Alert at 10:50 p.m. on July 4, 2008 for a 9-year-old boy after his father kidnapped him and shot the child’s mother in Lake Forest, California. The Orange County, California Sheriff’s Office asked Utah to issue the alert because the suspect had a girlfriend in Draper, Utah and a witness said the suspect’s motor home was spotted at the Cherry Hills recreation area in Kaysville, Utah. The alert in Utah was cancelled after authorities found the suspect’s motor home near the Mexican border and the suspect and victim were seen entering Mexico. The victim was found safe after the suspect dropped him off at a church in Juarez, Mexico. Authorities said the suspect was killed when he intentionally walked in front of a bus in Juarez.
(24) August 26, 2008
The West Valley Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 10:13 p.m. for 6-year-old Alicia Hernandez, 4-year-old Pablo Hernandez and 3-year-old Xiomara Hernandez-Torres. Detectives say the three children were taken by their biological father, 30-year-old Israel Hernandez. The father had visitation rights but had lost custody of his children because of severe abuse. Police believe the father may have taken the children in a maroon Chevrolet Corsica or a black Cadillac Escalade and may have gone to his hometown, Mexico City. An AMBER Alert is still active because the children have not been recovered.
(25) September 13, 2008
The Sandy Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 16-year-old girl at 1:09 p.m. on September 13, 2008. The victim has a mental capacity of a 10-year-old and had been missing for 21 hours. Police believed the victim was abducted after examining all other leads and issuing an Endangered Person Advisory. Sandy police initiated the Attorney General’s Child Abduction Response Team to help in the investigation. A classmate saw the AMBER Alert and provided investigators with a tip that the girl may be with a 16-year-old male student. Investigators say the person of interest initially stated he had not seen Robyn but finally admitted she was with him at 6:29 p.m. The male student was charged with providing shelter to a runaway, a class B misdemeanor.
(26) January 16, 2009
The Ogden Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 14-year-old girl who allegedly ran off with a 22-year-old family acquaintance. Police believe the suspect may have had a sexual relationship with the victim and was possibly taking her to Las Vegas, California or Mexico. Trucker Kerry Hammond heard the AMBER Alert on the radio and called 911 when he spotted the suspect’s vehicle. Less than two hours after the alert went out authorities recovered the victim and suspect in Washington County, 27-miles from the Utah-Nevada border. The suspect has been charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and providing shelter to a runaway. Kerry Hammond was honored with the Rachael Runyan Award.
(27) March 19, 2009
Spanish Fork Police issued an AMBER Alert for a 5-year-old girl after her mother reported that a suicidal man with a history of violence had taken her daughter. The mother said the suspect was a friend who was going to accompany her to Las Vegas. However the suspect took off with the girl shortly after she was placed in a car seat. Police determined the suspect had a history of violent crime and decided to issue the AMBER Alert. The suspect returned with the girl an hour after the alert went out and told police he had left to pick up some money for the trip. Police determined it was a misunderstanding and did not file any charges.
(28) April 3, 2009
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert after a woman stole a car with a three-year-old boy in the back seat. The parents of the victim had stopped at a gas station in separate vehicles. They were putting gas in one car when a woman jumped into the other vehicle and sped away. The stolen truck and the victim were found in a nearby neighborhood. A resident discovered the victim playing with her children and told authorities she found the boy wanted in the AMBER Alert. The child was found less than an hour after the alert went out. The suspect has charged with multiple felonies.
(29) January 2, 2010
The West Valley City Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 11:20 a.m. after a non-custodial father broke into a home and took his two-year-old daughter. The child’s mother called police after she received text messages from the suspect stating he was taking the girl to Mexico. The alert was canceled less than an hour later after Salt Lake City Police officers found the suspect and recovered the child.
(30) June 8, 2010
The Davis County Sheriff’s Office issued an AMBER Alert at 5:14 a.m. for a 6-year-old boy after he went missing with a person with a long criminal history. The victim’s mother was arrested for outstanding warrants and asked some friends to take her son to his grandmother’s house. Deputies feared the child was in danger after learning the victim’s mother did not give consent for the suspect to take her child and he never arrived at the grandmother’s house. A woman heard the AMBER Alert and made arrangements to drop the child off safely in South Salt Lake City.
(31) June 17, 2010
The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake issued an AMBER Alert at 2:27 p.m. after a witness said she saw an 8-year-old girl grabbed by two men and placed in the back of a car. The witness said she tried to follow the car and then went home and called police. Officers received a good description of the victim, suspects, suspect’s vehicle and a partial licence plate number. After the first 3 hours of the alert, police asked broadcasters to air the alert every half hour. The alert was canceled at 9:57 p.m. after no new leads came in and no one reported a missing child.
(32) August 5, 2010
The Provo Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 12:11 a.m. for 1-year-old child with severe disabilities and life-threatening asthma. The victim was allegedly taken without her asthma medication in a stolen vehicle by her biological mother, who does not have legal guardianship. Provo Police received numerous calls about possible sightings of the vehicle and found the victim and suspect about 6 hours after the alert was initiated.
(33) October 9, 2011
The Salt Lake City Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 12:36 a.m. for a 5-year-old girl. The child’s father told police the nanny abducted the girl and was going to Arizona. Police learned later that the father had given the nanny custody of the girl and the alert was canceled at 1:49 a.m.
(34) March 9, 2012
The West Valley City Police Department issued an AMBER Alert at 4:00pm after a 10-year-old girl was taken from Silver Hills Elementary School during lunch by her mother who did not have custody. The mother contacted news agencies and eventually spoke with the police and agreed to turn the girl over to authorities later that same night. The girl was reunited with her father and step-mother around 2 a.m. Saturday morning.