After 4-year-old Heidi Renae Todd’s mother was found “brutally beaten” and the child was reported missing from her Johns Island home on Tuesday, the Charleston Police Department asked for the public to be on the lookout.
The child was found Wednesday in Alabama.
But many commenters on social media questioned why S.C. Law Enforcement Division did not issue an Amber Alert for the child.
There were too many unknowns in the case, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters when asked about an Amber Alert in a news conference on Wednesday.
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“You have to have enough information to tell people what to look for,” he said.
For example, investigators were unsure whether the child was taken away from the home in a vehicle, Charleston’s Interim Police Chief Jerome Taylor said in a news conference.
He said the description of the suspect did not include enough detail.
The SLED website offers precise criteria for when an Amber Alert will be issued.
This criteria is backed by the U.S. Department of Justice, said Kathryn Richardson, spokesperson for SLED.
“Because there are so many missing people each year in South Carolina, they didn’t want the (public) to become desensitized,” Richardson said.
The agency’s website says investigators must be able answer “yes” to all of the following:
▪ The law enforcement agency believes that the child has been abducted: taken from their environment unlawfully, without authority of law, and without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian.
▪ The child is 17 years old or younger, and the law enforcement agency believes the child is in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death; or if the individual is 18 years old or older, and the law enforcement agency believes the individual is at greater risk for immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death because the individual possesses a proven physical or mental disability.
▪ All other possibilities for the victim’s disappearance have been reasonably excluded.
▪ There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the victim, suspect, or vehicle used in the abduction.
▪ The child’s name and other critical data have been entered into NCIC (the National Crime Information Center).
Anyone with information about this case may call the Charleston Police Department’s tip line at 843-619-6123.