Child Endangerment

Child Endangerment

A recent case in the DFW area has grabbed attention, not only in the Metroplex but nationally and internationally, as well.

On October 7, a 3 year old daughter was reported missing by her 37 year old father after he reported to police he had sent his daughter to stand in the yard as punishment for not drinking her milk.[1]

Most of us know, eventually the father confessed as to disposing her body in a culvert in the area of their home after watching the child “accidently choke to death on milk”.

Before admitting she was dead, the Richardson Police Department had issued an AMBER Alert and had taken the father into custody for Child Endangerment. Now he is facing injury to a child [2] which may be changed to murder if the facts of the investigation reveal he is culpable for such charge. These are a few of the numerous charges that can be leveled against parents for wrongful conduct towards their children. (In my next blog I will address some of these).

These heartbreaking developments make many of us to wonder what exactly triggers an AMBER Alert, especially in case such as this one where obviously the police believed the father was criminally culpable from the very beginning.

According to the website, the AMBER Alert system is now used in all 50 states including Puerto Rico, U.S, Virgin Islands and 22 other countries.[3]

In 2002 Gov. Rick Perry created the State of Texas AMBER Alert network [4]and followed the national model.

The below represents AMBER Alert criteria for the state's network:

  • Is this child 17 years of age or younger, whose whereabouts are unknown, and whose disappearance law enforcement has determined to be unwilling which poses a credible threat to the child's safety and health; and if abducted by a parent or legal guardian, was the abduction in the course of an attempted murder or murder?
    Is this child 13 years of age or younger, who was taken (willingly or unwillingly) without permission from the care and custody of a parent or legal guardian by:
    • someone unrelated and more than three years older,
    • another parent or legal guardian who attempted or committed murder at the time of the abduction?
  • Is this child in immediate danger of sexual assault, death or serious bodily injury?
  • Has a preliminary investigation verified the abduction and eliminated alternative explanations for the child's disappearance?
  • Is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public to help locate the child, a suspect, or the vehicle used in the abduction?

The Richardson’s Police Department issued an AMBER Alert on Saturday afternoon October 7 but cancelled it on Monday October 9 after the child’s parents stopped cooperating with the police. The Police said it was cancelling the alert because the investigators didn’t have a suspect or vehicle description [5]as by the last requirement under Texas guidelines.
"The alert ran out of time, basically. If there are no leads, no suspect information, and no vehicle description, the alert times out," said Richardson PIO Sgt. Kevin Perlich.[6]

Now the police will sort through the evidence to see if the appropriate charges are filed against the father and possibly the mother.