ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - It was 25 years ago Wednesday when Amber Hagerman was kidnapped in Arlington. With the crime still unsolved the Arlington Police Department looked to renew the public's interest surrounding her abduction and subsequent murder on January 13, 1996.
The crime led to the development of the Amber Alert System, which is now used worldwide to send public signals about missing children in danger.
Amber, who was 9 years old at the time, was taken from the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store as she rode her bicycle. Witnesses later reported that a white or Hispanic man, driving a black pickup, kidnapped her.
Here is the most updated suspect and vehicle description information:
- Suspect: White or Hispanic male, 20s to 30s (as of 1996), under 6' tall, medium build, brown or black hair
- Vehicle: Black 1980s or 1990s full size, fleet side pickup truck, short wheel base, single cab, rear window was clear, no sliding window, no chrome (solid black in color), no striping, truck was in good condition with no visible damage
It wasn't until four days after she went missing that Amber's body was discovered in a creek about four miles from where she was taken.
Now, 25 years after the crime, Amber's killer is still on the loose. With the focus still on finding the person responsible for the murder, Arlington police gathered at the site of the abduction, 1600 E. Abram Street, to release new photos and maps of the scene the night Amber was kidnapped.
"I miss her every day and she's just so full of life and I want to know why. Why her? She was only a little girl," Amber's mother Donna Williams said at Wednesday's press conference.
"We remain committed with the utmost resolve to bring Amber's murderer to justice," said Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye. "Our detectives believe that someone still has knowledge of this horrific crime."
Officials believe someone, somewhere knows something about the abduction and murder.
Arlington police Sgt. Ben Lopez said during press conference that there could be more witnesses who were in the area but have not spoken out.
"It is possible that there were other witnesses who saw what happened but were fearful about coming forward. With it being a Saturday afternoon that was nice and a laundromat being right next door to the abduction, we were concerned that there could be people that were there at the laundromat who may have been undocumented and living in this country illegally."
"We spent a lot of time putting out fliers and talking to the community to assure them that if there is a witness or witnesses who have that concern we are not interested at all in pursuing any kind of deportation or any interest in their undocumented status," Lopez added.
Investigators in Arlington are also hopeful new DNA technology could lead to a break in the case.
As soon as February, police said they plan to submit evidence to a lab that will use a new process to try to develop a DNA profile that could lead to a suspect. Investigators said the evidence, which they would not describe, has been reviewed several times since the murder, including by the FBI.
They cautioned there is not much evidence, and this is only an attempt. However, new techniques in developing DNA profiles have led to a break in cold cases over the past year, including the 1974 murder of Carla Walker in Fort Worth. Othram, a forensics lab in the Woodlands, was able to develop a DNA and use genealogy to lead investigators toward a suspect in that case.
A dedicated tip line has been set up for the public to provide any information, no matter how insignificant: 817-575-8823.
Oak Farms Dairy is also offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
"To Amber's killer, I'm asking you today please turn yourself in. Give Amber justice. Amber needs justice, deeply needs justice," Williams said. "And to anyone who has seen or heard anything about Amber's case, please come forward."
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