The tragic true story of Amber Hagerman whose shocking abduction inspired America's Amber Alerts

The case of Amber Hagerman, whose abduction inspired the creation of the Amber Alert, remains unsolved 26 years after the fact and is the subject of a new Peacock show

Amber Hagerman
(Image credit: Peacock)

It’s been 26 years since the horrific abduction of then 9-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas, back in 1996 and, although the episode inspired the creation of the lifesaving emergency alert system Amber Alert, the case still remains unsolved.

As has been extensively documented, Amber was riding her pink bike next to her younger brother Ricky on January 13, 1996. The two were having fun in the parking lot of an empty Winn-Dixie grocery store when Ricky decided to head back to his grandparents' house. Before Amber could follow him, though, a black pick-up truck pulled up right next to her and a man quite literally snatched her off her bike, pulled her into the driver's seat and sped off.

An older man was able to see the entire ordeal go down for his own backyard and told the police that he had actually noticed the truck parked at a laundromat nearby before the abduction took place. 

Unfortunately, a mere four days after the accident, Amber’s body was found near a creak in Arlington, just four miles from the parking lot where she was last seen. A man was walking his dog nearby and spotted the remains.

Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert is a new documentary on Peacock released today that explores the story in more detail.


Unfortunately, Amber’s killer has yet to be found. 

"It's been extremely frustrating for it to go on this long and not have it solved," Arlington Police Department detective Ben Lopez said to NBC News back in 2016. "We have other cold cases and they’re all frustrating, we want to solve them all, but 20 years is a long time. It’s frustrating not to be able to give the mom and the family an answer.”

Amber Hagerman

(Image credit: Peacock)


Although Amber’s killer has yet to be found, the little girl’s disappearance spurred officials to create what is now known as an Amber Alert. 

The emergency response system distributes details about, usually, a child's abduction through road signs and the media, hoping to quickly find more information that will aid in the search of the endangered individual.

Diana Simone, a Texas mom, actually came up with the idea just two weeks after Amber's abdudiction. She called a local radio station to explain her hopes: that an emergency system could be set up nation-wide so that when a 911 call was placed, all radio stations would immediately stop programming and blast the news out. She then wrote a letter to the radio station asking that the system be called Amber's plan. 

That same year, the alert became official and was renamed the AMBER for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. 

The system is now used across all 50 states in the United States, in the District of Columbia, in Puerto Rico and in 33 other countries.

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.