‘Amber’ Documentary Gives Life To Murdered Girl

The current detective who is overseeing the murdered case of Amber Hagerman says he had no idea the AMBER Alert system inspired by a case in his own hometown of Arlington, Texas while growing up. And that’s what Peacock’s Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert hopes to change.

On Jan. 15, 1996, Amber, only 9, was visiting her grandparents, when she took her bicycle with her younger brother, riding his behind, on a route around their neighborhood they took many times before. However, Amber decided to go a few hundred yards away to an abandoned grocery story that had a ramp on its loading dock area that she intended to ride up and down. What would’ve been a few extra minutes changed so much for one family and the way the general public are alerted to kidnapped children.

Amber’s brother, Ricky, decided to follow the same safer route expecting Amber to come shortly behind him. She didn’t. And when he told his mother and grandparents, they went looking for her and never found her. An eyewitness who lived nearby said he saw Amber quickly grabbed into a pick-up truck that took off. Authorities did what they could to get the word out but there was no system in place except putting up fliers and doing news reports.

What’s even more fascinating was Amber, Ricky and their mother, Donna Norris, had been the subject of a documentary being filmed by a local news station that was set to air within a week of her abduction and murder. Authorities had footage of Amber they could release but sadly, they didn’t have anything else. The community came out and supportted Amber’s family whose body was found by an Arlington resident out walking his dog.

People were questioned including the dogwalker, Amber’s father, Richard Hagerman (who had a history of domestic violence that he denies) and people associated with him, but they were all cleared. Footage of Richard debating the abuse shows how some people viewed domestic abuse and “marital spats.” I didn’t like Richard and he’s not a great person. But he’s not a person of interest. Authorities later determined that the truck went through a highly populated area and if they could’ve notified the public better, they may have found her and caught her abductor and killer.

The documentary doesn’t really focus much on what went into setting up the AMBER Alert system, just that it was put together out of concern of various people. With the Internet gaining in popularity, it was the perfect time.No, what the documentary does more is show us the unused footage that was captured for the documentary that never aired. It was intended to focus on a single mother living under welfare. It brings life to a young girl whose own was ended so shortly. And it’s sad to watch this footage knowing what was going to happen.

Also, I think the Peacock documentary was made to help picque some new-found interest in the case which is now 27 years old. Donna, herself, says this is the last time she is going to talk about the case to a film crew. It’s hard to bring up these memories over and over and you can see that in Donna’s tone and face. But worse, you can see the guilt in Ricky’s demeanor. He thinks if he had gone and followed Amber, she wouldn’t have been abducted and he is probably right. But a young boy doesn’t need to live with that guilt nor have it as an itch he can’t scratch most of his life.

But there is some comfort as we see a case that results in a kidnapped baby being recovered shortly after the AMBER Alert is implimented. And watching Ricky begin a family of his own gives both him and Donna the happiness they have needed.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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