Hailey Gawatz, 8, was found safe about an hour after police issued a NIXLE alert for the missing girl.
According to police, the case did not meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert.
In order for an AMBER Alert to be issued, the following five criteria need to be met:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
- The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
Police did activate the Child Abduction Response Team, or CART, to help respond to the missing girl alert.
After the murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens in Springfield, police were not taking any chances.
"We take situations like this very seriously, but with what happened last week in Springfield, I think it kind of heightens the public's awareness that when a child is not where they're supposed to be we don't want to discount that as just a child has wandered off and they'll just show up," said St. Joseph Police Department Detective Quentin Abbot.
Back in St. Joseph, the search for Gawatz ended safely after she turned up at the home of a family friend.
Police say it appears there was a miscommunication between family members about who was supposed to pick the second grader up from Hosea Elementary.
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