DETROIT (WWJ) – Some volunteers who’ve been searching Detroit’s Rouge Park for two missing children are demanding to know why an Amber Alert hasn’t been issued.
“I’ve seen them issue Amber Alerts for less than this,” search volunteer Sharon Mitchel told WWJ’s Marie Osborne. “And the Amber Alert is a waste of taxpayers’ money because this is the worst case scenario that an Amber Alert needs to be issued — and I am so upset right now.”
Both Detroit Police Chief James Craig and a spokesman for the Michigan State Police have said 6-year-old Kaylah Hunter and 8-month-old Kristian Justice did not fit any of the four criteria needed to issue an Amber Alert.
According to State Police, an Amber Alert is only issued when “an endangered missing person” under 17 years of age is reported to law enforcement, and one or more of the following circumstances exist:
The child suffers from a severe mental or physical disability that greatly impairs the child’s ability to care for him/herself.
The child is a victim of stranger or acquaintance kidnapping. (MCL 750.349) Stranger kidnapping is defined as a child being taken against his/her will by a stranger. Acquaintance kidnapping is defined as a child being taken against his/her will by an acquaintance of the child or the child’s family.
The child is in the company of a person who has a confirmed criminal history of child abuse/neglect, sexual assault, domestic assault, a crime involving the victimization of children, or has made statements of intent to harm the missing child, or is suicidal.
The child has been abducted by a non-custodial parent whose parental rights have been terminated.
Mitchel believes these children fit that first requirement. “You’re telling me that a 6-year-old and an infant are able to care for themselves?” she said.
State police say they’ve repeatedly publicly addressed the Amber Alert issue, and have properly followed protocol in this investigation.
That answer, however, does not satisfy Mitchel, who said time is running out to find these kids.
“State police have failed the family…” she said. “This mother is not here to speak for them, so it’s up to us in the community to speak for those children.”
The children’s mother, 27-year-old Alicia Fox, was found shot dead in an abandoned home last week. Now, her husband, 26-year-old Erin Justice — who is Kristian’s father — is charged with murder. He’s in Atlanta, Georgia fighting extradition. A second Detroit man, 27-year-old Timothy Jones, was arraigned last Friday on a charge of accessory after the fact.
Police received a tip that the children might be found in Rouge Park — which is the largest park in the city of Detroit — but law enforcement and volunteers have found no sign of the kids.
Chief Craig has said investigators have no idea if they’re dead or alive.