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Why it took more than 4 days to issue an Amber Alert for a missing Virginia teenage girl

Isabel was missing for more than 110 hours before an alert was issued

Newly released photo of Isabel Hicks
Newly released photo of Isabel Hicks (Virginia State Police)

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. – A Louisa County 14-year-old girl was last seen at 1 a.m. Monday, but it wasn't until shortly before 6 p.m. Friday that an Amber Alert was issued for Isabel Hicks.

Why wasn't the Amber Alert issued sooner?

On Wednesday at about 5:30 p.m., the FBI announced it was joining the search for Isabel, who at that time, was described as an endangered missing juvenile.

At that time, authorities believed the man she is with, Bruce Lynch, was armed and potentially dangerous.

Virginia State Police say they've been in contact with the Louisa County Sheriff's Office since Isabel went missing but says that all mandatory criteria for an Amber Alert were not met until Friday.

When I reached out to the Sheriff's Office, I learned that the Sheriff's Office was finally able to obtain an abduction warrant on Lynch, which allowed the green light for the Amber Alert.

The Sheriff's Office didn't explain why there was a holdup in obtaining this warrant.

The U.S. Department of Justice recommends the following criteria for issuing an Amber Alert:

  • There is a reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred 
  • The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger 
  • The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in the recovery of the child

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