Child abduction
alert links isles
and mainland

The state initiates broadcasts
based on civil defense alarms

The next time a child is abducted in Hawaii whose life is threatened, information about the child and abductor will be transmitted nationwide.

Maile Gilbert

Maile amber alert

Several factors could trigger a Maile Amber Alert, including if:

» The abducted victim is 17 years old or younger.
» The victim is believed to be in a life-threatening situation.
» Police have information it can issue to the public, including the suspect's description, type of vehicle used in the abduction, license plate and direction of travel.

Source: Governor's Office

The state will activate its Civil Defense Emergency alert system, with local radio and television stations broadcasting descriptions of the child, abductor and the abductor's vehicle. The same information will appear on electronic billboards on Hawaii highways.

And if authorities believe the abductor may have left Hawaii, an alert will be issued in whatever state the abductor is believed to have traveled. The same alert will be triggered in Hawaii if an abductor comes from the mainland.

Hawaii developed an alert system known as Maile in December 2002. It was named after 6-year-old Maile Gilbert, who was abducted from her Kailua home and murdered by a family acquaintance in 1985.

Each county followed with its own alert plan. If an abduction took place in Kauai, the other counties would not necessarily have heard about it. So far, none of the counties has issued a child abduction alert.

"When we had it on a local level, state agencies, state police officers, security officers -- they may have not gotten the message. And we did not communicate the information on a timely basis to our other jurisdictions," said Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa.

Now all of the counties are connected with each other and with the mainland under a new Maile Amber Alert Plan.

The Amber Alert is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Texas, who was abducted and murdered in 1996.

"We believe it's important to have a national system, because an individual can get on an airplane and could come to the mainland with that child. It's important that that information is shared not just across the islands, but also with the states," said Tracy Henke, national Amber Alert coordinator.

State, county and federal officials were scheduled to test the Maile Amber Alert at 11:45 a.m. today. Maile's parents attended yesterday's unveiling of the Maile Amber alert plan.

"I would like to thank everyone involved for putting (together) this program that helps us join hands across America to save our children, and for dedicating it to the memory of my daughter, who my family and I think of every day," said Maile's father, Tip Gilbert.

In the past three years, there has been only one child abduction that resulted in murder on Oahu, said officer Phil Camero, HPD missing-persons detail. The body of 11-year-old Kahealani Indreginal was found at Keaiwa Heiau State Park on Dec. 13, 2002, after her family reported her missing three days earlier. Her older sister's then-boyfriend is serving a 20-year manslaughter sentence for causing her death.

But even if the Maile Alert or Maile Amber Alert system had been in place, Indreginal's disappearance would not have triggered an abducted child alert, Camero said.

Her disappearance was not classified as a kidnapping initially because there were no witnesses to suggest she had been abducted, he said.

So far this year, police have had 23 missing-person cases involving minors, Correa said. All of the children were located, and none turned out to have been abducted, he said.

Honolulu Police Department

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com