JACKSON, Wyo. — Since it was first instituted in 1996, the AMBER alert system has saved countless lives in Wyoming.
Well, maybe not countless. It has made an actual 1,000 rescues as of last week. The milestone was reached after the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office requested an AMBER Alert for four missing children, ages 5, 6, 11, and 14, from the Arapaho Tribe. It wasn’t easy recovering the children but a few lucky breaks and a lot of police work solved the case.
The four missing kids’ non-custodial mother had taken them from home outside the reservation, where the tribe had placed them for protection.
Wyoming’s AMBER Alert Program is managed by the Highway Patrol. WHP confirmed the children were in imminent danger and that there were sufficient descriptions of the vehicle, suspect, and children for the public to help find them. A tribal court had issued a protective order to keep the mother away from the children, and the WHP activated the statewide alert.
The alert generated a lead when the mother, Stacia Potter-Norris, 30, stopped at a glass company to have a rear window of the vehicle replaced and, with no money, offered to sell some guns in exchange for the work. She left her phone number with the clerk who turned it over to law enforcement.
Another tip came when a homeless man saw the vehicle described in the alert at a truck stop. He watched the driver swapping her vehicle with someone she appeared to know in another vehicle. The first vehicle was found abandoned behind a Home Depot.
Using the phone number the mother gave the store clerk, investigators were able to identify her movements to the Denver area. At Fremont County’s request, the WHP requested that Colorado issue an AMBER Alert in that state with the updated vehicle information.
That prompted a call from someone who saw a vehicle matching that description parked at a Motel 6. Using the motel’s surveillance tape, the children were found safe in a motel room, but the mother had disappeared. She was later found, arrested on felony charges, and extradited to Wyoming.
“This is a success story that could have gone really bad, really quick,” said WHP AMBER Alert Coordinator and Dispatcher Chris McGuire, who’s proud of the milestone success story. “It really does show how the AMBER Alert works to safely recover children that are placed in harm.”
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