13 AMBER Alerts issued in Texas in 2024: Here’s what you should know

In the year 2024, the Texas Department of Public Safety has issued a total of 13 AMBER Alerts for missing children throughout the state of Texas, highlighting a pressing concern for the safety and well-being of minors. These alerts have garnered significant attention due to the high-profile cases associated with them. Among the 13 alerts issued, two remain active as authorities continue their search efforts. Tragically, one alert concluded with the heartbreaking death of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham.

The current active alert pertains to 1-year-old Noah Johnson, with the statewide alert being rescinded while the regional Houston alert remains in effect. Additionally, there is an ongoing alert for 13-year-old Cecilia Alvarado in the Houston area. The Texas Department of Public Safety reported a total of 44 AMBER Alerts in the state in 2023, with all missing children being safely located except for one case involving 6-year-old Noel Rodriguez-Alvarez from Everman, Texas. His mother has since been charged with capital murder in connection to his disappearance.

The surge in AMBER Alerts issued in Texas is evident when comparing the figures from previous years. In 2022, the state issued 31 alerts, but this number increased significantly to 44 in 2023, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Texas led the nation in AMBER Alerts during 2022, accounting for 17% of all alerts issued in the United States, surpassing the combined totals of the next two states, Georgia and Florida, with 14 and 13 alerts, respectively.

The criteria for activating an AMBER Alert are stringent, as outlined by the Texas Center for the Missing. Five key requirements must be met to trigger the Houston Regional Amber Alert System (HRAAS) or the Texas Statewide Amber Network, including the child being 17 years old or younger, belief of abduction by law enforcement, imminent danger to the child, verified abduction, and availability of crucial information for public dissemination.

A significant legislative change in Texas came in 2023 with the passing of House Bill 3556, known as the “Athena Alert” bill, in honor of Athena Strand, a 7-year-old who was tragically abducted and killed in Wise County in 2022. This law allows law enforcement to activate the AMBER Alert system even without fully verifying the criteria, provided they have reasonable belief of a missing child. The activation parameters include a 100-mile radius around the child’s last known location and adjacent counties, enabling swift dissemination of critical information.

When a missing person case arises, it is crucial for the community to remain vigilant and responsive. Organizations like the Texas Center for the Missing play a vital role in educating the public and assisting authorities in locating individuals who have gone missing. With the collaboration of law enforcement and the public, efforts can be intensified to ensure the safe return of missing loved ones.

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