RACHAEL MARIE RUNYAN
DATE OF HOMICIDE: August 26, 1982
LOCATION: City Park, Sunset, Utah
TIME: 1230 hours
On Thursday, August 26, 1982 at approximately 1230 p.m., Rachael Marie Runyan (pictured top right and center right), DOB: June 23, 1979 was kidnapped from a park in Sunset, Utah. Rachael was playing with her two brothers ages five and one and a half years old, as well as other children from the area. According to the witnesses, a black male 25 to 35 years old, 6 ft, slender to medium build, offered Rachael some gum. Witnesses last saw the black male put her in a small blue midsize car and drive away.
Click here to view the Police Composite Drawing of the Suspect in this case.
Twenty-four days later on September 19, 1982, Rachael's body was found in Morgan County on a dirt road known as Trappers Loop.
This case remains unsolved. If you have any information, please contact Chief Ken Eborn or Detective Shawn Valdez at: 801-825-1620 or by clicking on this email address.
UNSOLVED CHILD MURDER : RACHAEL MARIE RUNYAN
Copyright 2002 The Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune...04/03/2002
FRANK CURRERI, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Rachael Marie Runyan, a 3-year-old girl who was kidnapped from a Sunset park and killed in 1982, might be alive today if her abduction had been aired sooner by the news media, believes her mother, Elaine Runyan-Simmons.
Now, Utah law enforcement officers are joining forces with broadcasters so news of a kidnapping and a victim's photograph can be more quickly publicized.
Officials plan to call the new program 'The Rachael Alert,' after the little girl whose death saddened people across the nation.
"The heartbreaking statistic is that 74 percent of children abducted by strangers are killed within three hours of being taken," said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "The Rachael Alert will give kids an extra chance to survive."
The plan is similar to those in eight other states, which have led to the safe return of at least 16 victims, Shurtleff said.
Under the Rachael Alert, child abductions can be broadcast on television and radio stations at any time of day, not just during the morning, afternoon and evening news time slots.
Officials caution, however, that the Rachael Alert will be used in limited and rare circumstances -- child abductions by strangers. The emergency broadcasts will not be used, they said, for runaways, lost children or in parental tug-of-wars, unless the child's life is at stake.
Four criteria must be met before the alert is used. A child must be assumed kidnapped; the child must be 15 or younger, or have a proven mental or physical disability; the child must be in imminent danger of serious injury or death; and there must be information available to help, such as a description of the abductor or vehicle.
"For all those who would take our children," Shurtleff said, "Know this: There won't be just a couple of cops looking for you, there will be tens of thousands of people all over Utah . . . with their eyes wide open and a cellphone handy."
Utah Public Safety Commissioner Robert Flowers said authorities can set up roadblocks and search every car for an abducted child.
The previous article is provided as a non-profit public service of the Safety and Security Center (http://www.safetyandsecuritycenter.com)./ It is the reader's responsibility to verify the validity of any of the articles and the facts and advice contained therein.
UNSOLVED CHILD MURDER : RACHAEL MARIE RUNYAN
UTAH RACHAEL ALERT
Report abducted child information with the Utah Rachael Alert Information Form (requires Adobe Reader)
View the Utah Office of the Attorney General's information about the Rachael Alert.
NEW WARNING SYSTEM WILL SAVE KIDNAPPED KIDS
BROADCASTERS & OFFICERS UNITE FOR "RACHAEL ALERT"
People watching television or listening to the radio may soon be enlisted to help find an abducted child. The attention-getting shrill beeps of the Emergency Alert System will now be used to get out details about the victim and the suspected kidnapper.
Using the Rachael Alert, radio stations will announce the abductions and TV stations will air the child's photograph and provide important information in a "crawl" at the bottom of the television screen.
The Rachael Alert is named after Rachael Marie Runyan.
The 3-year-old was kidnapped on August 26, 1982 while she was playing with her two brothers at a park in Sunset. Witnesses say the abductor offered Rachael some gum and then put her in his car and drove away. Rachael's body was found 24 days later in Weber Canyon.
"The heartbreaking statistic is that 74 per cent of children abducted by strangers are killed within three hours of being taken," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "The Rachael Alert will give kids an extra chance to survive."
Utah is joining a growing number of states using the alert program, which is known nationally as the Amber Plan, to disseminate information quickly while the trail is still fresh.
The original plan was started in 1996 and was named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle and brutally murdered in Arlington, Texas.
Law enforcement officials like the plan because the public becomes part of the solution. "Within moments we will have thousands of people ready, willing and able to help," said Kal Farr, Executive Director of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association.
At least 16 children have been saved so far using the Amber Plan in other areas. So far 33 communities have implemented the program and Utah is the ninth state to offer the plan statewide.
"This is the best way to get the message out quickly and in the most places possible," said Dale Zabriskie, Executive Director of the Utah Broadcasters Association. "I can't think of a better way for broadcasters to serve the public than by trying to save the lives of children."
The Rachael Alert is unique because it can only be activated by law enforcement. It is only used for serious child abduction cases and cannot be used for runaways or most parental abduction cases unless the child's life is being threatened.
Summary from a Utah Attorney General News Release, April 2, 2002
Utah's Child Abduction 'Rachael Alert' Activated to Help With Smart Case
Thursday, June 6, 2002
Utah's new emergency warning system for child abductions -- called the Rachael Alert -- was activated for the first time Wednesday with the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.
The girl's family called police at 4 a.m., and after an initial investigation, police determined Elizabeth had been abducted. Police called KSL-Radio at 7:10 a.m. and 11 minutes later, the information was disseminated to a Utah audience.
Radio stations announced her disappearance while TV stations aired her photograph and provided information in a "crawl" at the bottom of the screen.
Ric Cantrell at the Utah Attorney General's Office said the Rachael Alert, created in April, allows residents to help law officers find missing children. "Anyone who wants to be a detective can help," Cantrell said.
The system is named after 3-year-old Rachael Marie Runyan, who was kidnapped on August 26, 1982 while she was playing with her two brothers at a park in Sunset. Witnesses say the abductor offered Rachael some gum and then put her in his car and drove away. Rachael's body was found 24 days later in Weber Canyon.
There are four criteria for initiation of the alert, Cantrell said:
* The child is assumed kidnapped;
* The child is 15 or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability;
* The child is in imminent danger of serious injury or death;
* There is information provided to aid the police, such as a description of the abductor, the abductor's vehicle or the child's last known location.
-- Michael Vigh
Sunday, July 21, 2002
BY GREG WRIGHT
GANNETT NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- David Durant took what he probably thought would be a brief stroll on a crisp, clear day in October near Abbot Home, his senior citizens residence in Zanesville, Ohio.
He never made it back.
Police looked for Durant, 65, for days, peering into dank storm drains and searching local forests and rivers. But no trace was found of the quiet but friendly man.
"That one will follow me until I retire," Detective Tim Collins said of the case.
A missing child strikes an emotional chord with the public and often gets lots of media attention. The saga of Elizabeth Smart, 14, a pajama-clad Utah girl reportedly abducted at gunpoint in June from her bedroom, is an almost daily staple on television news.
But missing persons advocates, including John Walsh of Fox television's "America's Most Wanted" said police and media also should give more scrutiny to about 200,000 grown men and women who disappear each year.
Federal and state law and most local police department protocol call for immediate missing children investigations. But that is not the case with adults.
And most police departments, especially in rural areas, on average have only 10 officers, Walsh said. This often is not enough manpower to pursue missing adults for long periods, he said.
"Here is the difficulty: As an adult, you have the right to be missing," said Peter Banks, training director at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.
"So, oftentimes, law enforcement is reluctant to put resources into a case where people may have left on their own."
More attention on missing adults could come soon, partly due to the 2001 disappearance of intern Chandra Levy, 24, whose remains were found in May in a Washington park. Unlike most missing adult cases, Levy's received national attention because relatives said she was romantically involved with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.
In 1999, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., succeeded in passing the Kristen Act, which created a national data clearinghouse for missing adults. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which Walsh co-founded in 1984, already runs a similar clearinghouse for children and teens.
The Kristen Act was named for Kristen Modafferri, an 18-year-old North Carolina college student who disappeared in 1997 in San Francisco. Her desperate parents called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children but learned Modafferri was just a few months too old to qualify.
"They were shocked to discover that because Kristen was 18, the center couldn't place her picture and story in its national database or offer any assistance," Myrick said.
On July 10, the Justice Department released $1.75 million to finance the Kristen Act. The bulk of this money -- a $1.58 million grant -- will go to the Nation's Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults in Phoenix. The rest will go to state efforts to find missing adults.
Besides setting up a computer database for national law enforcement agencies, the missing adults center will offer local police consultants to help solve missing adult cases, Director Kym Pasqualini said.
Meanwhile, Walsh said his 15-year-old television program, which helped capture more than 700 fugitive criminals, will begin airing spotlights on missing adults. The program previously featured only missing children.
Radio and television also should broadcast instant emergency alerts when an adult is reported missing, Walsh said. Several states -- including Utah, Colorado, Michigan, New York and Texas -- already have alerts for missing children. Utah's are called Rachael alerts, named for 3-year-old Rachael Marie Runyan, who was kidnapped in a park in Sunset in 1982; her body was found 24 days later.
Roger Chiang, who works for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, said missing adults should receive more media attention.
"You can't address adult missing persons without the help of technology and television," he said.
More than 840,000 adults and juveniles were reported missing in the United States last year, compared with 876,213 in 2000, the FBI said. Almost 80 percent of these cases are runaway children and teenagers, according to FBI data.
Many come home when they get hungry or cold or run out of money, experts said.
Launching a search quickly is crucial, no matter the person's age. Almost 75 percent of kidnapped children are killed within three hours after abduction, according to the Washington state Attorney General's Office. Putting more attention on missing adult cases could help solve other crimes, such as serial killings.
The reluctance of some law enforcement agencies to probe missing adult cases may have helped 1970s serial killer Ted Bundy escape capture for years, Walsh said. The charming, handsome Bundy sexually assaulted and killed at least 36 women in a crime spree that stretched from Washington state to Florida. He was convicted and electrocuted in 1989.
"Twenty-six or 27 of these women were listed as voluntary runaways," Walsh said.
Local law enforcement agencies get training to probe missing children's cases, but acknowledge they do not get missing-person investigation training. In fact, many police rely on volunteers to help search, Walsh said.
"Every day, you would receive a stack of missing people reports," said Richard Kobetz, a 16-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. "There are other things much more pressing than an adult missing person."
When a child goes missing, media coverage matters
By LANA WHITED
If you've been watching TV at all since Wednesday (June 5), you surely know about the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart of Salt Lake City. Abduction coverage is one of the things media do best.
Elizabeth was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint around 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to her 9-year-old sister. Because the abductor said he would hurt Elizabeth if the younger sister told her parents, she waited two hours before alerting anyone. By Wednesday afternoon, both The Salt Lake Tribune and the Desert News ran lengthy articles with photos of the missing girl.
In abductions, local coverage matters most, especially in the first few hours. Although Elizabeth and her captor could be nearly anywhere in the world by now, her captor had to get her out of Salt Lake City first, and in the process, someone there might have seen them. Also, if the kidnapper lives in the area, he's more likely to be recognized by local viewers or readers.
But as the hours go by, national media coverage is critical. The Smart family called a news conference Wednesday afternoon, and soon after, the story was in the national press pool. It led many news broadcasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.. Family members made appearances on "Larry King Live" Wednesday night and on "Today" and "Good Morning America" Thursday morning.
Articles ran in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Orlando Sentinel, The Los Angeles Times, The Canadian Press and Newsday. The story also went out over the Associated Press and Reuters news wires, which assures its appearance in numerous smaller papers. It wasn't in Thursday's Franklin County edition of the Roanoke Times
Also, Elizabeth's disappearance marks the first use of a Utah notification network for missing children called the Rachael Alert system. It works much like a weather alert system and was named for 3-year-old Rachael Marie Runyan, kidnapped in 1982 and found dead 24 days later.
In addition, leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) all over the country are disseminating flyers featuring Elizabeth's picture. The Smart family are church members.
In the aftermath of an emergency, people often feel that reporters and photographers are interlopers. But when a child -- or anyone else -- is missing, newspapers, radio and TV can be important allies to investigators. Publicity is critical to the success of a search, says Mike Meese, lead investigator in the disappearance of Polly Klaas in California in 1993 (Klaas's body was found two months later).
But the media serve another important function when someone disappears. Although news organizations are often regarded as specializing in doom and gloom, the headlines following a disappearance can help keep hope alive.
Thursday's headlines read "Family mobilizes volunteers to search for kidnapped girl," "Search underway in abduction," and "Reward offered for the return of girl in apparent kidnapping." The tone is optimistic, like the tone of search and rescue, as opposed to search and recovery.
And by emphasizing the search effort, especially the number of volunteers, the media reinforce our sense of community.
In the well-known meditation that begins "No man is an island," the English poet John Donne wrote that we are all "diminished" by the death of any of us. In a modern media context, a child goes missing, and a bell tolls throughout the global village.
"Do not send to know for whom the bell tolls," wrote Donne. "It tolls for thee."
As the 24-hour mark of Elizabeth's disappearance has passed, chances of finding her alive are slim, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That is the bad news.
The good news is that, thanks to the media, we're all on the lookout.
Lana Whited teaches English and journalism at Ferrum College and advises the staff of the campus newspaper, The Iron Blade. According to her mother, Whited began writing her first novel when she was in third grade. Her latest work, "The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter," critical essays by an international group of scholars, is forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press. She lives on a farm in western Franklin County with goats, chickens, dogs, cats, and a human.
www1.roanoke.com/columnists/whited/5769.html The AMBER Plan
The Rachael Alert is known nationally as the AMBER Plan.
It is a voluntary, cooperative partnership between law-enforcement agencies and local broadcasters to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and is believed to be in grave danger. Under the AMBER Plan, area radio and television stations interrupt programming to broadcast information about the missing child using the Emergency Alert System, formerly known as the Emergency Broadcast System.
While EAS is typically used for alerting the public to severe weather emergencies, it is also the warning system for civil and national emergencies. The federal government requires all radio and television stations and most cable systems to install and maintain devices that can monitor EAS warnings and tests - and relay them rapidly to their audiences. The idea behind the AMBER Plan is a simple one: if stations can broadcast weather warnings through EAS, why not child abductions?
The AMBER Plan provides law-enforcement agencies with a valuable tool to help recover abducted children and quickly apprehend the suspect.
The purpose of the AMBER Plan is to provide a rapid response to the most serious child abduction cases. When an alert is activated, law-enforcement agencies immediately gain the assistance of thousands of broadcast and cable listeners and viewers throughout the area.
The plan relies on the community to safely recover the abducted child.
It is hoped that this early warning system will not only coerce a kidnapper into releasing the child for fear of being arrested but also deter the person from committing the crime in the first place. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 74 percent of the children who are kidnapped and later found murdered were killed within the first three hours of being taken.
The AMBER plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and murdered in Arlington, Texas.
Law enforcement says Amber was dragged from her bicycle while riding in a shopping center near her home. Her body was found four days later.
The news of Ambers murder outraged the entire community and mobilized residents to take action. Following her murder, concerned individuals contacted local radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested that the station broadcast special alerts over the airwaves to help find abducted children.
In response to this recommendation the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers, with the assistance of local law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas, established the AMBER Plan, Americas Missing Broadcast Emergency Response. Initially only radio stations participated in the plan. In 1999, eight area television stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area joined the plan and began sending out these urgent bulletins.
Utah adopted the AMBER Plan on April 2, 2002 and launched a statewide program to issue Rachael Alerts.
The Rachael Alert is named after Rachael Marie Runyan. The 3-year-old was kidnapped on August 26, 1982 while she was playing with her two brothers at a park in Sunset, Utah.
Witnesses say the abductor offered Rachael some gum and then put her in his car and drove away. Rachaels body was found 24 days later in Weber Canyon. The parents of Rachael Runyon, law enforcement officers and broadcasters hope Rachael Alerts will help prevent similar tragedies.
The Salt Lake City Police Department issued the first Rachael Alert after the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart on June 5, 2002.
The Rachael Alert
Powerful law-enforcement tool and wonderful way broadcasters can contribute to their communities.
Sends a strong message that law enforcement and broadcasters are providing a proactive way to help protect their communitys children.
Provides each agency with a rapid response to serious child abductions.
Dramatically increases law enforcements ability to locate witnesses and resolve cases.
Engages the entire community to mobilize and assist with recovering the child and apprehending the abductor.
Acts as a deterrent to this type of crime.
Builds relations between law-enforcement, broadcasters and the community.
Costs very little to implement.
To date this innovative early warning system has been credited with saving the lives of 16 children.
The Emergency Alert System - History and Requirements:
The AMBER Plan uses the Emergency Alert System, formerly the Emergency Broadcast System, to deliver urgent child-abduction bulletins to area radio and television stations and cable systems. The AMBER Plan Task Force in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas chose this method of delivery because it is the oldest and most reliable means of relaying critical information to broadcasters quickly and simultaneously.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says the EAS is used to transmit life-saving messages to the public.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reminds us that child abductions can be life-or-death situations.
If a community is slow to act, the child may not come home safely.
If the abductor is not apprehended, then the entire community remains at risk.
The EAS provides a rapid response to child-abduction cases so the community can immediately react.
The Emergency Alert System was created in 1994 by the FCC.
The new system replaced the Emergency Broadcast System established in 1951 as a way to provide the President with a means to address the people of the United States in the event of a national emergency.
Beginning in 1963, the President allowed state and local emergency information to be transmitted over the system as well. The FCC does not require stations and cable systems to broadcast state or local EAS Alerts. It is a voluntary service, but each station is required to broadcast national emergencies activated by the President.
The FCC requires all AM, FM, and television broadcast stations, as well as cable systems, to have an FCC-certified, fully operational EAS encoder for sending emergency information and a decoder for receiving emergency information. Other entities may voluntarily participate including satellite programmers and wireless telephone services. The FCC requires each broadcast station and cable system to monitor at least two independent EAS sources called primary EAS stations. Typically, if the first primary station is unable to broadcast the alert, the second station provides an automatic backup so an alert can be sent out to the community.
Primary EAS stations volunteer to relay the emergency information to all broadcasters and cable operators in the area. Once these outlets volunteer to relay an EAS warning, they will transmit the audio and/or visual messages according to FCC rules.
The EAS is designed to warn the public about emergencies ranging from fires and tornadoes to evacuations and toxic chemical spills.
Utah is currently is using the administrative code (ADR) for child-abduction cases within the EAS. On October 1, 2002, Utah will begin using the Child Abduction Emergency (CAE) code for all Rachael Alerts.
Benefits of the Emergency Alert System:
Immediate- Every radio and television broadcast station and cable system will receive the information quickly and simultaneously.
Inexpensive- There is no additional expense or reprogramming of the EAS receiver, unless the state police or another state agency is called upon to activate the system. In these cases the state agency may need to purchase the equipment (unless they already own it).
Automatic- The new EAS utilizes digital equipment and digital signals that allow broadcasters and cable operators to interrupt programming for a warning manually or automatically. Since some broadcast and cable entities are programmed from far away, automatic activation for local and national emergencies is a key part of EAS. This would benefit stations and cable systems that are not staffed 24 hours a day because the system automatically overrides current programming and breaks in with the alert.
Accessible- You dont need a television or radio to receive an emergency alert. The EAS messages can now be received and decoded through specially equipped consumer products such as pagers, cellular telephones, and other devices
Less Intrusive- EAS tests are shorter and less obtrusive to viewers and listeners; therefore, when people hear or see the EAS messages, they will take them more seriously.
Flexible- EAS digital messages can be automatically converted into any foreign language normally used by the broadcast station or cable system.
Law Enforcement Responsibilities:
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children strongly encourages every law enforcement agency to have an established protocol for investigating missing/abducted-child cases. Only by developing effective and efficient policies and procedures can agencies help ensure the successful resolution of these cases.
Utah law enforcement agencies must consider the four important criteria noted below before sending out a Rachael Alert.
1. Law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted.
2. Law enforcement confirms the child is 17 years old or younger or has a proven mental or physical disability.
3. Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in serious danger of bodily harm or death.
4. There must be enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and suspects vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
Utah has developed its own standardized Rachael Alert form that can be sent by E-mail or by fax (E-mail is preferred).
This form should only be sent when abduction has been confirmed. This form will be filled out by the agency investigating the case and sent to the primary EAS provider and is responsible for triggering the emergency alert system (KSL Radio).
Having the Rachael Alert form in place will make it easier for your agency to prepare important information about the case. Law enforcement agencies can obtain the forms at the Web site of the Utah Attorney Generals Office .
Develop a major case-response plan- It is important that every department recognize the need to plan the response to activating the Rachael Alert. The agency must
Decide which person in the department can authorize a Rachael Alert.
Obtain the information noted below before issuing a Rachael Alert. This information will be included in the standardized form distributed to the primary radio and television stations.
- Name, age, and physical description of the child
- Description of the childs clothing
- Location and time that the child was last seen
- Description of the vehicle involved in the abduction
- Last known direction of travel and possible destination
- The investigating law-enforcement agency and telephone number the public should call if they have information about the case
- Name and telephone number of the contact person for the media
- A recent photograph of the abducted child from the family
Once the victim and suspect information has been confirmed, it should be passed on to the appropriate officer in charge so a Rachael Alert form can be sent to the EAS broadcast station.
Activation of the Rachael Alert Plan will only be authorized by the law-enforcement agency that reports the abduction. Broadcasters play no role in activating the plan.
As soon as possible, the investigating agency should obtain the most recent photograph of the abducted child.
The photograph should then be scanned and E-mailed to broadcasters. Agencies without E-mail or Internet capability can fax the photograph, but should also take it to a central location, such as a command center, to allow the television stations to capture the photograph on camera.
Consideration must be made for allocating additional resources. Officers may need to be reassigned from other units. Assistance may be necessary from other municipal, county, and state agencies. The FBI should also be contacted.
Designate a media liaison to coordinate information and interviews. This person would also deal with individuals who have no investigative input.
Develop contact lists and confidential broadcast fax numbers- Telephone numbers, fax numbers, and E-mail addresses should be compiled and updated so that information can be disseminated quickly when abduction occurs. Law enforcement agencies will e-mail or fax the standardized form to the Salt Lake Communications Center. The form will be sent to KSL radio, the primary EAS provider for the state of Utah. KSL will then notify all other television, radio and cable stations through the EAS system.
The Salt Lake Communications Center will also activate the electronic roadway signs, send a "Locator and Trak System" alert statewide, contact Utah Dispatch Centers, notify officers at all ports of entry and contact all agents of the Utah Trucking Association.
Establish telephone banks- Prior to activating the Rachael Alert, it is critical that hotline telephone banks are set up and staffed. Agencies must be positioned to receive and process leads from individuals. Volunteers or personnel must be in place to take calls for at least 24 hours after the plan is activated or until the alert is canceled.
Law-enforcement agencies must have an assigned telephone number that will be given out to the public during the alert message. This number must be able to rollover into several other separate lines to handle the large volume of leads that may come after the Rachael Alert activation.
Notify law-enforcement personnel- Someone in a supervisory role should notify the entire agency about the Rachael Alert and furnish all personnel with details about the case. Notify other agencies about the alert via an administrative message/teletype.
Contact NCMEC- Make sure to contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to report the child-abduction case. This can be done through the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
Prepare for media reaction- Once the alert is activated, media coverage can be overwhelming, especially for a small department. A public information office (PIO) should be appointed to handle the press.
This will free up the sheriff or police chief who is trying to investigate the case. The PIO should keep the media informed about the case with daily updates and media releases. PIOs should be as accommodating as possible to the media to receive maximum exposure for their case.
Prepare for community reaction- Dont underestimate the power of the Rachael Alert. The reaction from the community will be intense and overwhelming because most people will want to help
Review alerts- After an alert is triggered, each agency should be prepared to file a report to the Review Committee. The report should include the reasons why the Rachael Alert was used. After the alert is reviewed, a written report should be sent to all participating members of the plan for their evaluation and recommendations.
Law enforcement agencies in Arlington, Texas, were criticized for not activating the alert often enough. When they changed and adopted a rather safe than sorry policy, they they issued six alerts in five weeks that did not meet the criteria they felt was appropriate.
Fearing the plans credibility would suffer if it continued to operate under these guidelines, the Association of Radio Managers(ARMS) in Dallas/Fort Worth, established stricter criteria for activating the alert. ARMS also created a review committee to evaluate the circumstances surrounding each AMBER Plan activation. Moreover ARMS announced that if a police department continually disregarded the criteria, they would instruct broadcasters not to honor that agencys activation requests.
One of the more difficult responsibilities of law-enforcement will be to tell a parent that a particular incident does not fit the criteria of the plan, so an alert cannot be activated. If the plan is triggered too often, then the public may lose faith in the system, and people will not react to future alerts. Law enforcement may find other means to alert the public about an incident that does not fit Rachael Alert criteria.
Special Thanks to the Salt Lake Sheriffs Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for helping with this training summary and questionnaire. Please contact Paul Murphy at the Office of the Utah Attorney General, (801) 538-1892, with any questions or suggestions.
BLIND FAITH OR STUPIDITY?
by Timothy Rollins, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher
June 18, 2002
As a religious man, I have always felt that part and parcel of being a man of faith calls for being informed and for making wise and responsible choices in the responsibilities entrusted us. This is particularly so when it comes to the most sacred trust of all - our children.
Out in Utah (no surprise, folks!), they have yet another case of a parent failing to exercise due caution and proper responsibility in taking care of their child or children.
This is an ongoing problem that has been part of the regional landscape out there for well over 20 years.
The one that stands out the most to me involved three-year old Rachael Runyan (right) , who was kidnapped from a park in Sunset, Utah in August of 1982 and subsequently murdered.
A frantic community rallied around the family and prayed and searched for 24 days before her body was found in Morgan County on a dirt road known as "Trappers Loop". Twenty years have passed and her killer still remains at large, her murder unsolved, and as I see it, it isn't likely it will ever be solved either in my lifetime, my now ex-wife Gaylene or that of my now three children.
I was a student at the University of Utah at the time Rachael disappeared, and could relate to the vulnerability her parents felt at the time, as I was the father of a nine-month old boy at the time myself. However, when Rachael's parents went on ABC's Good Morning America, I remember remarking to Gaylene that if Rachael were still alive, that her parents' appearance on national television had in effect signed her death warrant by negating any bargaining value Rachael may have once been.
For whatever reason, it seems that during my time in Utah (1979-1984) and according to conversations with friends in the ensuing time since, all too often the prevailing "Pollyanna" mentality there is such is that because they are faithful in church, that the Lord will watch over them and their families, and thus, many of them blithely overlook many basic security functions that are the inherent responsibility of both Mom and Dad.
Another case in point was the case a few summers ago - also in the Salt Lake City area where four or five children were found suffocated in the trunk of a Saturn sedan with one of the children unable to reach the emergency escape cord - all in the name of a game of 'hide and seek'.
Branding me insensitive, my younger brother ripped me a new one when I wrote a column calling the parents to task for failing to exercise proper parental responsibility by at least checking in on the kids from time to time while they were outside playing.
Now I know that some Moms and Dads spend their days in the summer playing with their younger children and some work in the house while the children play outside; however - as I said before, each parent that is at home at least has the obligation to check in on the kids from time to time during the day to see that they are at least playing safely.
Fast forward to the present. We are now being deluged with daily accounts from the media of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart , the 14-year old who was kidnapped in the early morning hours of June 5th wile her 9-year old sister watched in paralyzed fear and then waited for hours before telling her parents. I'm no cop, but I have to tell you, there are more holes in this emerging story than in a Steven Spielberg script. Like Elizabeth being permitted to get her slippers before leaving for example.
This home was no shack or hovel. It was a 6,600 square-foot mansion with seven bedrooms and an indoor racquetball court among other features. Come to think of it, being a home worth over $1 million and all, you'd have thought that with an alarm system in place but turned off at the time (why - it was 1:00 a.m.?), it would have been activated at least for the upper levels or for where the children's bedrooms were located.
Yet Elizabeth was taken through a window, setting off no alarms. You have to wonder what really happened?
Another question that sticks out is training the children how to handle emergencies such as this - especially with the family having a greater amount of financial wealth than most. The home was on the market for $1.2 million and was being seen by prospective buyers.
Whoever "took" Elizabeth Smart had a very good idea of the home's layout and knew exactly where to go. Elizabeth's father Edward revealed yesterday he might have left the garage door open, thus facilitating a way for the 'kidnapper' to have access to the family home. The more I hear about this however, the more it sounds like an inside job or even the possibility - however remote - that Elizabeth may have even run away.
Most likely, it probably was indeed a kidnapping and like Rachael Runyan of 20 years ago, in all likelihood, Elizabeth is by now dead with it being only a matter of time before her body is found and yet another child's death is mourned - a death that would be needless and that could have been easily prevented through proper, reasonable and responsible precautions on the part of either or both parents.
More than anything, I would very much like to see Elizabeth Smart safely reunited with her family. However, that usually happens within three days or so after disappearance, after which the trail grows cold. Given that such a time window has long since closed, I believe any realistic chance of safely recovering Elizabeth has also closed as well. As much as I would like to be proven wrong, I just don't see that happening.
From the friends I have in the law enforcement community both in Utah and elsewhere, again - I just don't see that happening. Please understand that my observation is not limited to the Smart family by any means as they are the victims of a vicious and terrible crime - it is the Utah culture and a climate of smugness, arrogance and elitism that drove me away from the state nearly 20 years ago to which I have no plans on returning in the foreseeable future for anything beyond a visit. My feelings for the place are so strong that I even wrote a Utah Credo that reflects my attitude on the matter.
Until the people of Utah (among other places) overcome their blind faith and adopt a more well-grounded attitude along the lines of a more informed faith both in their fellowmen and in God through being more responsible in their stewardships - to include responsibilities over their families - particularly their children, then the likelihood of more Rachael Runyans and Elizabeth Smarts and more children suffocating in the trunks of cars in their driveways will continue to increase unless parents increase basic security measures in and around the home.
As a parent, I have always kept the car locked when not in use.
I learned the value of this lesson when my oldest was just over two. He walked in the kitchen and grabbed my keys on the counter. I motioned Gaylene to follow me (we were at her parents' home) and they followed us as we followed him outside. He then went through my key ring, found the right key on the first try, put it in the door, turned the key unlocking the door and at that point I put my hand on his and congratulated him for guessing right - not to mention the fact that it also scared the crap out of me at the same time.
Following that incident, I made sure he never had the keys again unless I was with him at all times. Had the Smarts made some basic efforts to street-proof their children as well as place some security devices in their home, they might very well still have Elizabeth with them today.
In the meantime - as for the Smarts along with their family and friends: Prepare them for bad news. ***
2002 Timothy Rollins
McGruff Provides Safe Havens
Saturday, June 15, 2002
McGruff the Crime Dog is joined by law officers and corporate partners on Friday as the Utah Council for Crime Prevention seeks to expand its McGruff House safe havens. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)
BY MATT CANHAM
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Volunteers plan to double the number of McGruff Houses around the nation, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program and in response to the Salt Lake City kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.
Homes with the McGruff House sign in the window are temporary havens for children who feel threatened. Utah currently has 1,800 McGruff Houses, and the Utah Council for Crime Prevention's goal is to have 4,000 homes by 2012.
Tibby Milne, the council's executive director and the founder of the McGruff House program, said she plans to create a "compassionate army of volunteers and people who love children."
Milne started the program in response to the Aug. 26, 1982, kidnapping and murder of Rachael Runyan. The 3-year-old girl was abducted as she was playing with her two brothers at a park in Sunset, Utah.
Milne said the Smart girl's kidnapping on June 5 has once again brought national attention to the issue of child safety.
"It is so sad Elizabeth is [missing], but how nice is it that we have these programs to help other children," she said.
The thousands of Utahns who have helped search for Elizabeth show the community's desire to support its children, said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "Right now the whole world is saying we have to do more," he said.
The Utah PTA, the American Mothers National Association and Utah Chiefs of Police Association are three of the many organizations that promise to promote the McGruff House program.
The crime prevention council is also providing parents with free digital pictures and fingerprints of their children from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 66 E. Cleveland Avenue today. More than 150 families received the free service on Friday.
Those interested in sponsoring a McGruff House can call 801-486-8768.
Utahns Get Behind National Child Abduction Alert Network
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
BY ASHLEY BROUGHTON
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
The father of a 3-year-old Sunset girl kidnapped and slain 20 years ago joined members of Utah's congressional delegation and the family of Elizabeth Smart on Monday to express support for a national child abduction alert network.
"What they're doing is a wonderful program," said Jeff Runyan, who now lives in Brigham City, at the Smart family's triweekly news briefing. Runyan's daughter, Rachael, was abducted and murdered Aug. 26, 1982. She is the namesake of Utah's Rachael Alert for missing children.
"The first 10 to 15 minutes [following a kidnapping] are absolutely critical," Runyan said.
A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Dianne Feinstein of California would set up national coordination of alert networks and assist states in setting up new Amber Alert systems. It also would establish grants under the U.S.
Department of Transportation to fund half the cost of setting up the Amber programs.
Fifteen states, including Utah, and 32 cities currently have Amber Alert plans for missing children. Since those were established, 22 children have been recovered.
"State borders don't matter here," said U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who said he would co-sponsor the bill when it is introduced in the U.S. House. "It's a regional and national matter when something happens."
U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said he wasn't aware of the legislation until he was contacted by the Smart family, but said he planned to confer with Hutchison and Feinstein to help shape the bill. Staffers from U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen's office also attended, and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch's office called the Smart family to offer support.
"It's a bipartisan issue," said Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father. "It's a matter of taking care of our children and finding them."
The family is posting a letter to members of Congress that can be downloaded at its Web site,
Smart said he did not know if such a system would have helped 14-year-old Elizabeth, who was abducted June 5, but said widespread alerts could prompt residents to recall anything suspicious they witnessed at the time the child was kidnapped. Investigators have found no trace of Elizabeth since her disappearance.
Rachael Runyan's body was found on a Morgan County dirt road 24 days after she was abducted. Her death is still listed as unsolved. Amber Alerts did not exist then. "It might have made a difference," Jeff Runyan said.
The toddler was kidnapped and murdered 15 years ago on Aug. 26, 1982.
``It has been frustrating over the years to not really have the answer that you want,'' said Olmstead.
Rachael's mother, Elaine Runyan Simmons, refuses to return to the spot where a man in a dark blue car whisked her daughter away.
``You go through the whos and whys and how somebody can do this.
You just can't come to any solution,'' said the 42-year-old Kaysville woman, who recently remarried.
``It's the most cruel act that anybody can inflict on a human being.''
In the early afternoon of that blistering summer day, Simmons was cooking sloppy joes for lunch while Rachael and her two younger brothers played in the sand under a slide at the school playground. They were 15 feet from their own back yard.
The children tried to run when a man offered them candy. Two made it to the house. Justin, 5, ran into the kitchen and told his mother, ``I have some real bad news.''
The ensuing search involved hundreds of police officers and citizens. It mobilized the entire Davis County area and soon spread nationwide, Olmstead said.
``I've never experienced anything like it, community-wise,'' he said. ``I literally got calls from every agency in almost this entire Wasatch Front. It became alive with support.''
But her body was found near Trapper's Loop in northern Morgan County. She was hogtied with nylon parachute chord.ut three weeks after the abduction, Rachael's family got tragic news: Her body was found
The cause of death could not be determined. She had not been sexually assaulted, Olmstead said.
Despite appearances on several national television shows, including ``America's Most Wanted,'' police are no closer today to finding the murderer, Olmstead said. A $20,000 reward is still offered for information leading to the killer.
``I'm still hoping that [the killer] makes a bad choice in who he talks to and comes forward,'' he said. ``The case is still solvable even though it's 15 years old.''
Simmons has since focused her energy on helping parents avoid the horror she experienced. In addition to speaking publicly about Rachael's death, she helped start Utah's Missing Children, a nonprofit group to prevent child kidnappings.
``Reliving something over and over is therapeutic, but I have a lot of energy and drive to fight back,'' she said. ``I'm proud that I was strong enough to do that. It hasn't been easy, and it came at a big price. It changed our lives forever.''
Salt Lake City, UT -- Every Aug. 26, Sunset police Chief Phil Olmstead sits on a bench at Doxey Elementary School and remembers 3-year-old Rachael Marie Runyan.email@example.com www.elizabethsmart.com. Users will be able to add their own comments, and links will be provided to their lawmakers' e-mail addresses or Web sites. Smart said he hoped the letter would be available today. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The birth of 'AMBER ALERT' in Utah . I have no idea why newspaper editions and links to articles have been removed. Or more importantly why RACHAEL ALERT was changed to AMBER ALERT...when the 'ALERT' was named in memory of Rachael, even though she was part of the Amber plan ?.this may well have been to hide the fact Ed Smart abused the strict code of law in UTAH by using RACHAEL ALERT to report a runaway..his daughter Elizabeth, who was also NOT in danger for her life..Of course a cynic might say changing 'Rachael Alert' to Amber Alert would always relate to Elizabeth Smart and her 'alleged abduction' wiping forever the memory of three year old Rachael whose killer has never been caught...
Posted by SteelMagnolia at 3:01 AM