A small Texas town is upset that the state is refusing to issue an Amber Alert for a 13-year-old cheerleader who has been missing for more than a week.
The Colorado City Police have requested the alert three times since Hailey Dunn, a middle school student, was reported missing Dec. 28 by her mother, Billie Dunn.
The girl was thought to be spending Monday night at a nearby friend's home, but did not return home the next morning, the police said. The friend later said she was not expecting a visit from Dunn.
The cheerleader headed out around 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 27, first going to her dad's house and then supposedly to the friend's house.
Billie Dunn's boyfriend, Shawn Adkins, was the last person to see the girl, the mother told police. It was Adkins who reportedly said the girl was spending the night at a friend's home. Adkins was scheduled to take a polygraph exam today.
"We can't say one way or another if she is abducted or is a runway," City Manager Peter Kampfer told ABC News. "One of the requirements that they have for an Amber Alert in the state is that there is a witness or we have some sort of evidence that she's been picked up or been threatened. That's one of the qualifiers."
Kampfer is frustrated by the state's guidelines for issuing alerts at a time when help is needed.
"I would like to see it a little bit broadened. I don't hear many Amber Alerts in this area of Texas. In fact, I can't remember the last one I've heard," he told ABC News. "You'd like to be able to think you could invoke a request and get some help."
Police Chief John Bivens said the minimum standard for creating an Amber Alert is "knowledge of a suspect, a description of a vehicle involved in an abduction and/or a route and direction of travel."
Right now, the town does not have such information.
"We're having an ongoing investigation. As of today we're just following up on the initial leads and of course we have leads that are coming in from the public," Kampfer said. "We have nothing substantive at this time."
This case is currently being investigated by the local police, county sheriff and the Texas Rangers.
On Friday, bloodhounds were taken to the six motels in Colorado City. At one of them, the Western Suites, which is adjacent to Interstate 20 and near the Dunn home, the dogs picked up on the girl's scent in the parking lot. It led to a ground-floor room, but no further. A search of all 24 rooms produced no other evidence.
Colorado City, a town of only 5,000 people between the Odessa/Midland area and Abilene, has raised a $10,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts and safe return of Dunn.
Since the statewide Amber Alert program started in August 2002, there have been 65 alerts including nine last year, according to Tela Mange a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Public Safety. There are separate local and regional systems that issue other alerts.
Mange said alerts can only be issued when somebody who is 17 or younger is missing and the disappearance has been deemed "unwilling." Police then need to show that the child is in immediate danger and eliminated other scenarios such as a runaway. Finally, there needs to be some other information such as a description of the abductor's vehicle in order to issue an alert.
"People sometimes get wrapped around the idea that the Amber Alert will solve everything. Well, the police work is what is going to do it," Mange said.
The Amber Alert program is a partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The system launched in 1996 and is named in memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then murdered.