Just a couple weeks ago, I mentioned my mixed feelings about the alerts sent out when a rich white boy went missing. To be clear, I am very glad that the police want to help find missing children, and if one of my sons went missing, I'd do exactly what the father who triggered the alert would do. But... while I've heard of missing white kids, I've never received an alert for a missing person of color.
On Monday night after lights-out, my phone buzzed.
This is unusual, because it was past the time my "do not disturb" kicks in. For those not familiar with this iPhone feature, it quiets the phone to all alerts unless specific contacts call, or if there is an emergency.
Just last week, I learned that my "do not disturb" indeed lets calls from my husband through. He phoned me very early in the morning from the airport to inquire as to whether his driver's license was sitting on the dresser. Alas, it was, which meant he missed his flight. But, because the phone let his call through, at least he knew the license was safe... just at home.
And I know that "do not disturb" keeps everything else quiet. I've awakened to find texts, emails, and missed calls that happened to occur after I had turned in for the night.
And so, receiving an alert late at night that actually buzzed my phone was a surprise. A big surprise. Of course, I was nervous, especially because the message flashed "Emergency Alert!"
Later, watching back a DVR'ed show, I saw the same "Emergency Alert!" flash across the screen for at least a minute as the voice-over read the text of the alert. We've had those "emergency alert tones" go through the TV for a ticker-tape style of alert at the bottom of the screen before, but it was the first time I've ever seen an actual full-screen, multi-page alert.
But, it wasn't impending foul weather. It wasn't a criminal on a rampage. (Indeed, when Christopher Dorner was loose, I would have expected such treatment, but my phone and TV were silent as he made his way through my state.)
Instead, the alert told us that a white, 16-year old, blonde female is missing.
The longer alert - which I received via email - included that her younger brother (who has brown hair) is also missing.
I'm glad the Amber Alert can do this. It can ping our phones, cover our television screens, and arrive in our inboxes. It can post details on highway signs. And, in the case of this recent one, can appear on multiple news stations as well, as the suspected abductor may be crossing state lines.
Yes - I'm very glad that a village can come together and be on the lookout for two kidnapped children. There is thankfully a lot of information about the vehicle out there, and of course I hope the kids are found.
It is rare that this level of hunt occurs. And, it makes me wonder why.
On one hand, if we received alerts every time someone was abducted, the urgency of the situation would be muted. But on the other hand, what exactly makes a particular case important enough to achieve so much attention? I really hope the answer isn't that it is a rich, blonde, white girl. (Who, oh yeah, happens to have a brother who is also missing, but that's not being publicized as much.)
According to recent reports, the abductor is headed towards Canada. Apparently Oregon and Washington cellphone users are receiving alerts on their mobile devices now.
The hunt is on.
And yes, it is a good thing that so many people are now aware of the situation. But how many times have similar situations played out elsewhere with nary a peep? I really wonder.
Maybe abductions are much more rare than I think. Maybe. And maybe, kidnapping victims are usually white. Maybe. And female. And blonde. And beautiful. Or not.
This particular case is not fun. It appears that suspected abductor James Lee DiMaggio was a close friend of the Anderson family, and developed a crush on 16-year-old Hannah. Monday night, James Lee DiMaggio's house was on fire, Christina Anderson (mom to Hannah and Ethan) was killed, and Hannah went missing. Apparently, there is a child's body in the burnt home that might be Ethan's. (So, to be fair, the emphasis on Hannah being missing rather than both Hannah and Ethan may be accurate.) I don't know why the three of them were at the DiMaggio house, or why the father Brett Anderson was not there.
It makes me sad to hear. It is scary. I think of how I've had a couple men become rather obsessed with me to the point of my discomfort when I was younger. I think of how I pray every night that my boys will remain safe, sound, alive and well. (And yes, as much as I sometimes wish I had a daughter, I also know that I'd be very worried about her safety given how some men treat women.)
What is likely happening to Hannah Anderson right now is what I feared as a young attractive female. And, the despair, worry, and pain that Brett Anderson is experiencing surrounding his family is something that I hope I never experience firsthand.
If something like this happened to my family, I'd want all the alerts. I'd want everyone looking out for the vehicle (a blue Nissan Versa, CA license 6WCU986 in this case.) I'd want everyone's help and would pray that my children would be located.
But... would the police do this for any family?
I really hope Ethan is alive (but then who is dead alongside Christina Anderson?) and hope that Hannah is found unharmed.