On a sunny afternoon in January 1996, young Amber Hagerman was set upon and kidnapped whilst riding her bike in Arlington, Texas.
Her killer has never been found.
Who killed Amber Hagerman and how have they managed to get away with it for so long?
The Abandoned Grocery Store
On the afternoon of January 13, 1996, nine-year-old Amber and her brother Ricky (5) decided to ride their bikes to an abandoned grocery store in Arlington, Texas.
After a short period of playing around the outside of the store, Ricky decided to head back home and leave his elder sister to cycle alone.
A 78-year-old retiree named Jim Kevil witnessed what happened next from the backyard of his property…
“I saw [Amber] riding up and down, she was by herself. I saw this pickup. He pulled up, jumped out and grabbed her. When she screamed, I figured the police ought to know about it, so I called them.”
The police were on the scene in a matter of minutes.
He gave a description to the police of the truck being a really dark color – possibly black. He also described the abductor as white with a slight chance of him being Hispanic.
When Ricky arrived back home without Amber, their grandfather, Jimmie Whitson, got worried and decided to check on Amber himself.
By the time he arrived at the abandoned grocery store the police were already there, searching the area.
The Hardest Cases To Solve…
When abductions are carried out by strangers, they are regarded as the most difficult cases to solve.
Police were more than thankful for Jim Kevil’s eyewitness account, but even that did little to help their investigation efforts.
At the end of the day it seemed very much like a crime of opportunity – the twisted individual saw Amber playing alone and decided to act on the spot…
The abandoned grocery store was situated on East Abram Street, right near a huge General Motors plant.
From the beginning of the investigation, the police were certain that the culprit was an individual that was more than familiar with the surrounding area.
The police were joined by volunteers and the FBI to carry out their large-scale search.
Initial reports indicated that a truck similar to the one in Kevil’s description was seen outside a local laundromat before Amber was taken, but investigators never located the vehicle.
Four days after the search had began, a local man was walking his dog a few miles away from the area Amber had been snatched (Forest Hill Apartments).
His dog was alerted to something near the bottom of local creek bed – he investigated and stumbled upon the dead body of Amber Hagerman.
The autopsy revealed that Amber had been alive for about two days after her abduction – in this time she had been sexually assaulted.
A professional task force was quickly assembled to find the killer and thousands of leads were followed up by the Arlington police and the FBI.
Every one led to a dead end in the case.
In 1999 the task force was closed down and the case went cold – the killer had managed to escape justice.
Shortly after the gruesome discovery of Amber’s body, a caller to a Dallas radio station posed an interesting question.
They wanted to know how this terrible thing had been allowed to happen – and why couldn’t the law enforcement team up with the media to quickly provide information to the public when a child is abducted?
The idea received huge amounts of praise and eventually led to the creation of the Amber Alert.
This special alert has saved the lives of more than three hundred missing and abducted children.
So, who killed Amber Hagerman?
The police profile indicates that the killer worked near the scene of the crime and had somewhere local to hold the child for two days.
They also believe that something had caused the killer to snap in the days leading up to Amber’s abduction and murder.
He has roamed free since 1996…
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