Why did I not receive an AMBER Alert in SWFL for the missing kids?

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
Brian and Bri’ya Williams. Credit: via FDLE.

Police believe two missing children could be anywhere in Florida. Unlike other AMBER Alert cases, our smartphones were not notified in Southwest Florida. Many people are now asking why.

Maria and Richard Stanley have gotten plenty of AMBER Alerts on their cell phones over the years. Maria describes the alerts as “very loud” and “very annoying.” But, she always makes an effort to look at the alerts. The couple were just two of many people in Cape Coral WINK News spoke with on Monday who had not heard of the missing brother and sister in Jacksonville.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an AMBER Alert. But it did not reach our smartphones hundreds of miles away in Southwest Florida. Sgt. Patrick O’Grady, who works with the Cape Coral Police Department, said there is certain criteria that must be met to issue an AMBER Alert.

“If it’s sent out statewide,” Sgt. O’Grady said, “that means there’s an imminent danger and we want to get the person before they leave the state.”

The Jacksonville alert apparently was issued regionally. FDLE did not get back to us for comment.

“Emotions run really high,” Sgt. O’Grady said. “Generally, you know who the abductor is. It’s usually a family member or a really good friend, but sometimes it’s not.”

Much like the situation unfolding in Jacksonville, Paul Murac, who lives in Cape Coral, said they could be traveling anywhere in the state. Having an alert in Southwest Florida would have been in the best interest of solving the case. That is why many people in Southwest Florida would have like to have gotten the alert on their smartphone.

“They’re good,” Peggy Kuhn said, “because then people are aware and they look out for that vehicle.”

While others said they like the regional approach.

“It would be nice to know, but why would they come to Cape Coral?” Richard Stanley said. “Cape Coral is a community of older people mostly?”

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