DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Six hours elapsed Wednesday between the death of a Dallas 3-year-old and an Amber Alert for his two siblings. When the two were found safe late Wednesday, Donna Norris was weeping at home.
“I prayed to God last night. It’s bittersweet with my baby. They said the babies were fine and back home. and I cried and said ‘way to go Amber,’” says Norris.
Donna Norris is Amber Hagerman’s mother. Hagerman was kidnapped and murdered 15 years ago in Arlington. Through her memory the Amber Alert has become a nationwide system of notifying the public about children in immediate danger.
“It’s just another way for my daughter to protect our little children like she was when she was here,” says Norris.
Dallas Police issued their Amber Alert Wednesday evening after 3-year-old Josiah Garcia was beaten to death. The suspect, his mother’s boyfriend Christopher Garcia, vanished shortly after dropping the 3-year-old off with his mother. Garcia fled with 4-year-old Frank Cavello and 8-month-old Chrislynn Garcia, who is his biological daughter.
Norris says she understands it can take time, but believes DPD’s alert should have been issued earlier. “That is really too long. It only should take them a couple of hours if they just know how important that time period is,” explains Norris.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson helped create the nationwide notification system with Norris, but says the delay is inevitable.
“Everyone would like to hit the button and make things go out,” says Anderson. “No matter how simple or clear cut the case is some investigation has to be done. You have to learn some things before you put the information out.”
Anderson says there are guidelines which have to be followed closely. “You have to confirm that there is an abduction taking place. Then you have to have some kind of confirmation that the children are really in danger and it’s not just a child custody issue.”
It’s estimated that the lives of more than 500 children have been saved so far by the activation of the Amber Alert system. It’s a legacy Amber’s mom is proud of as she waits for justice for her daughter. Norris believes Amber’s killer is still out there. There remains $75,000 reward in place for the suspect’s capture.
“Every time I hear ‘Amber Alert’ I pray to God that it works and brings the children back home to mom and dad,” says Norris.
The children in Wednesday’s case were brought to a Dallas Police substation late Wednesday night unharmed. Garcia was eventually arrested, and is currently being held on a $1 million bond.