25-year-old Texas abduction, murder case shaped the way law enforcement handles investigations

(AP Photo/Bill Janscha)

ARLINGTON, Texas (KETK) – A murder case in Texas 25 years ago changed the way law enforcement handle child abductions.

Amber Hagerman was only nine years old when she was abducted while riding her bicycle in a parking lot with her brother, just blocks away from her grandma’s home.

A neighbor, who had heard Amber’s screams, called police and provided investigators with the description of the suspect and the vehicle.

Police found her body in a creek a few days later, with her throat slit.


On Wednesday, the 25th anniversary of the original crime, Arlington investigators announced they plan to submit original evidence for new forensic testing.

They’re hoping this will provide a more complete DNS profile of the killer, and possibly close the case.

Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye spoke with our sister station in Dallas, KXAS, saying in part:

“Because the technology is new and it’s advanced we are excited that this year, hopefully by February, we will submit this new evidence to see if we can get an enhanced DNA profile.”

What the new evidence was or how long for it to come back was not released by investigators.


This case led to the worldwide Amber Alert notification system to find missing children, America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The state-wide system was adopted in 2002.

Seven years later, 2003, President George W. Bush would sign the Amber Alert package into law at the Rose Garden of the White House. The national “Amber Alert” plan would create a system to help find kidnapped children and impose tougher penalties on child abusers, kidnappers and pornographers.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The below represents AMBER Alert criteria for the state’s network, according to Texas DPS:

  • Is this child 17 years of age or younger, whose whereabouts are unknown, and whose disappearance law enforcement has determined to be unwilling which poses a credible threat to the child’s safety and health; and if abducted by a parent or legal guardian, was the abduction in the course of an attempted murder or murder?
    Is this child 13 years of age or younger, who was taken (willingly or unwillingly) without permission from the care and custody of a parent or legal guardian by:
    • Someone unrelated and more than three years older,
    • Another parent or legal guardian who attempted or committed murder at the time of the abduction?
  • Is this child in immediate danger of sexual assault, death or serious bodily injury?
  • Has a preliminary investigation verified the abduction and eliminated alternative explanations for the child’s disappearance?
  • Is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public to help locate the child, a suspect, or the vehicle used in the abduction?

Were they killed? Did they leave on their own? What happened to them?

KETK & FOX51 has started a new digital franchise focused on the almost 100 people missing in East Texas.

You can find their stories here. Learn about what happened to them. Listen to what happened.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Right Now

Don't Miss

Community Calendar

KETK Twitter & Facebook

FOX51 Twitter & Facebook