(8/26/2002) The summer of 2002 has seen an unfortunate rash of child abductions. The media, and the AMBER Alert system has been credited with the positive resolution of many cases. Now, the Internet community is getting involved, but after a long history of false and misleading accounts, many doubt the veracity of e-mailed reports.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Please Don't Give UP!
An AMBER ALERT has been issued ! Jennifer has been missing since 08/15/02
Jennifer Renee Short
PLEASE PASS THIS PAGE TO HELP
CLICK HERE PASS THIS INFORMATION
Someone out who see this may know something.
Even the smallest piece of information can help!
Missing from Bassett, in the Blue Ridge foothills of Virginia.
law enforcement officials said they have made no progress in the investigation
Investigative leads are decreasing in the case of the missing 9-year-old girl and her slain parents.
Police had reports of a vehicle that may have been seen leaving
the Short house not long before the bodies were discovered.
Police are hoping for any breaks in the case.
There is the possibility of a red or dark colored van or truck or pickup
Police are looking to expand their leads.
PLEASE PASS THIS PAGE TO HELP CLICK HERE
Someone who sees this May know something.
If You Have Any Information Please Contact your Local Authorities.
*The "Amber Alert," is a statewide alert aimed at aggressively publicizing kidnappings to help bring in tips.
Such an alert was credited with assisting the recent rescue of two teenage girls abducted near Lancaster, Calif.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
On August 15, 2002, officials in Bassett, Virginia, found Michael and Mary Short dead from gunshot wounds in their home. Their daughter, Jennifer, has not been seen since the murders. She is believed to have been abducted by her parent's killer(s), but officials are stumped as to a motive. A detailed physical description of Jennifer, along with contacts for leads (something the e-mail above lacks), are provided in this Poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Unfortunately, this case has a sad ending. Officials confirmed that remains discovered in Rockingham County, N.C., are those of Jennifer Short. Police forensics experts revealed that she had been shot.
The "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response" (AMBER) alert system was launched in the Fall of 2001 by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in response to the 1996 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. Once local law enforcement has been notified of a missing child case that fits the AMBER plan criteria, radio and television stations and cable providers are given information to broadcast immediately. When the child is believed to be in immediate danger, time is an enemy and the AMBER plan gives officials one more tool to battle abductors, as was demonstrated in the California case briefly mentioned in the chain letter above. Jacqueline Marris and another unidentified girl were abducted by Roy Ratliff in Quartz Hill, California in July 2002. Media attention is credited with the girls' safe return a day later.
The letter above is the latest in a disturbing trend from MailBits.com. Long known as a purveyor of joke-of-the-day newsletters and other frivolous Internet pursuits, Mailbits has shifted gears of late to include missing child chain letters and bits of armchair activism. Unfortunately, spelling and grammar errors, coupled with the fact that clicking the link provided takes you to a page with no apparent connection to the case that asks you to supply the e-mail addresses of 10 friends and subscribe to other newsletters, has many wondering if the notice above is for real. And, since it isn't dated and cannot be retracted, it continues to be circulated by well-meaning people who are unaware of the case's tragic conclusion. Break this Chain!