Killer of Amber Hagerman, who inspired Amber Alert system, still being sought 25 years later


Authorities in Texas this week expressed renewed hope that new DNA technologies could lead them to solve the cold case murder of Amber Hagerman, the girl who inspired the Amber Alert system.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the case, police and members of Hagerman’s family held a news conference to make a renewed plea to the community for information about her abduction.

“Our hope is that someone in the community saw something, maybe they didn’t come forward 25 years ago out of fear or not wanting to get involved,” Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye said during the news conference. “Whatever reason, we need folks to search their minds and bring forward anything that may be [of] value to our investigation.”

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On the afternoon of Jan. 13, 1996, 9-year-old Amber was abducted while riding her bike at a grocery store parking lot in Arlington — about 20 miles west of downtown Dallas, police said.

A witness told officers he saw a man get out of a black pickup truck, grab Hagerman off her bike, and force her into his vehicle as she kicked and screamed. The witness said the truck left the parking lot and was heading west, according to police. 

Four days later, her body was found in a creek about four miles away.

The department said officers “combed” through more than 7,000 tips but none led to the proof needed to find Amber’s killer.

Despite the lack of physical evidence in the case, authorities expressed hope that new DNA technologies could help them develop a DNA profile. The department on Wednesday announced plans to submit evidence from the case later this year for the “cutting edge form of testing.”

“We’re excited because this year there is new technology when it comes to DNA. And we’re excited about this year being able to submit that and hope that we could get a better DNA profile on the killer,” Kolbye told FOX 4 of Dallas-Fort Worth.

The suspect was described as a white or Hispanic male, under six feet tall, with a medium build and brown or black hair, police said. He was in his 20’s or 30’s at the time of the crime. 

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On Wednesday, Donna Williams, Hagerman’s mother, urged the killer to “please turn yourself in.” Teary-eyed, she also pleaded with the public to come forward with more information.

Donna Williams waits to approach the podium, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Arlington, Texas, to speak on the 25th anniversary of the abduction and subsequent murder of her daughter, Amber Hagerman, depicted in the mural on the right. (Associated Press)

Donna Williams waits to approach the podium, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Arlington, Texas, to speak on the 25th anniversary of the abduction and subsequent murder of her daughter, Amber Hagerman, depicted in the mural on the right. (Associated Press)

“I miss her every day and she was so full of life. And I want to know why? Why her? She was only a little girl,” Williams said.

The nationwide Amber Alert system — named after the girl — has helped to save more than 900 abducted children in the U.S, FOX 4 reported.

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The department said it created a new tip line specifically for the case. Anyone with more information is urged to call 817-575-8823. Oak Farms Dairy is currently offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest, police said. 

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