The system for finding missing children

By Layron Livingston - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - After she makes a phone call from 600 miles away, from another country, a missing East Texas girl tells her family she's OK.

Friday night, 11 year old Julissa Rodriguez called her family from Monterrey, Mexico. She was missing for a week. Police say Julissa's alleged kidnapper, 23 year old Enrique Vasquez is still in Mexico. If found, authorities plan to extradite him back to the U.S. where he'll face aggravated kidnapping charges.

This alleged kidnapping case has a happy ending. That said, even the best efforts, could use some perfecting.

Almost immediately flyers were handed out nad news reports went on: Where was Julissa? Turns out that she was all the way in Mexico.

But how?

Officer Don Martin with Tyler PD said that whenever children are involved, it's urgent. Alone, "beyond" said it initiated 10-thousand emails and sent more than 8-thousand faxes to law enforcement agencies across the state. Martin said descriptions of the car, the victim and the suspect made it all the way to border patrol.

"The border patrol is doing their best to keep people coming and going, but there's so many different ways for people to sneak people in and out that it's a difficult process," said Martin.

Natalie Fletcher is an immigration attorney.

"Ususally when an adult is taking a child across the border, you've got to show a notarized statement from a parent that says you have permission to have this child," said Fletcher.

She said that more than likely, the suspect and the victim snuck across the border.

"That's what's really scary," said Fletcher.

Amber alerts generally do not extend into Mexico. In this case, none was issued. We spoke with Tela Mange with DPS on the phone.

"We don't want to get into a situation where we issue so many amber alerts that the public pays no attention," said Mange.

She said five criteria have to be met before an amber alert is issued: The child must be 17 years old or younger. There has to be enough descriptive information. The risk of serious injury or death must be present. All alternative explanations have to eliminated once the abduction is verified. And authorities have to believe an unwilling abduction has occurred.

Fletcher said that in Texas, the word unwilling presents a concerning situation.

"In that it allows the child to go with an abductor if they know the abductor or if they're willing to go," explained Fletcher. "They can't consent to sexual conduct, so how is it possible for an eleven year old to be kidnapped?"

"It's an effective system, said Mange. "Certainly there are always things that can be looked at and tweaked."

Hopefully, for many, many more happy endings.