GREENVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – In the wake of the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Alicia Moore, a Northeast Texas mother feels the Amber Alert system needs to change. “There’s a Silver Alert and there are things for small children,” says Shannon Ross of Campbell, Texas, just outside of Greenville, “but it’s our teens that are being abducted and missing. And then we find cases like Alicia, and we don’t want that to happen anymore; we just want some changes to it.”
Ross is the mother of three grown children and a 14-year-old daughter. She worries too many teen disappearances are written off as runaways. This week, she started an online petition to try to pressure state and federal officials to expand the Amber Alert by using Facebook and social media. “We don’t have to have the police force to get on it immediately but the public would love to get out and help find these children and I know they would do it willingly and it doesn’t cost a thing.”
“Everyone is looking for answers, looking for solutions,” says Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, who created the Amber Alert after the kidnapping and murder of Amber Hagerman in 1996. He argues the Amber Alert is successful because it’s used so rarely and only when it’s confirmed a child has been abducted and is in danger. “There are literally hundreds of children go missing every day. Not many of them are in danger; not many of them are even missing for very long. Most of them are at a neighbor’s playing video games or are missing from their back yards for a few minutes and are found.” Anderson is a parent and understands the anxiety of a missing child, but he worries overusing the Amber Alert would be self-defeating. “If you had 10-20 Amber Alerts come out a day they would soon become meaningless.”
Shannon Ross admits Alicia Moore’s fate weighs on her. She says she had a scare two years ago at the Greenville Middle School when a stranger tried to pick up her own daughter, Haley, along with two classmates. “A green car pulled up and they slowed down,” Haley told CBS 11 News. “And they rolled their window down and asked if we needed a ride, me and my two other friends. And we ignored them and just kept on walking by and they slowed with us the whole time, and it made me really scared and I just spend up; my heart was racing.” Shannon Ross has since moved to the Campbell School District. “There’s too many horrible people out there and I feel like if something did happen—given her age as a teenager—it may not get the attention that it needs.”
By Friday evening Ross’s online petition had nearly 1700 supporters. You can read it at change.org.