AMBER Alert issued for abducted infant in Flathead County

Posted at 12:04 AM, Aug 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-23 13:00:21-04

An AMBER alert has been issued for six-month old boy named Lucas Warner from Columbia Falls in Flathead County.

The Montana Department of Justice issued the AMBER Alert at 11:46 p.m. on Saturday, August 22 on behalf of the Flathead County Sheriff's Office.

The alert states that Andrew Warner and Hayli Emerson abucted Lucas and are driving a white 1998 Dodge Dakota pickup truck with Montana license place 720745A.

Warner is said to be the non-custodial father of Lucas, and the alert states that Warner is reportedly bi-polar off of his medication.

The alert states that Lucas is believed to be in danger as a court has ruled that Andrew is an unfit parent.

Authorities have reason to believe that they may be headed to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Wyoming, North Dakota, or South Dakota.

Anyone with information or who sees them is asked to call the Flathead County Sheriff's Office at 406-758-5610, or call 911.

AMBER Alert issued for abducted infant in Flathead County
AMBER Alert issued for abducted infant in Flathead County

Whenever a child is reported missing in Montana, law enforcement agencies work quickly to determine the circumstances, and whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert, or a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory (MEPA). The AMBER Alert program started in Texas in 1996 after 9-year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. In response to community concern, broadcasters in the area teamed up with law enforcement agencies to establish a program capable of quickly distributing information about child abductions to the general public.

In memory of Amber, the program was called the AMBER Plan – America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. In Montana, officials also have the option of issuing a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory.

Here is the difference between the two:

AMBER ALERT: All of the following criteria must be met, according to the MT DOJ:

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that a child has been abducted or has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
  • The missing child is age 17 years or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
  • 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.
  • The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.

The AMBER Alert system is not used to track runaways, missing children or children involved in custody disputes. The program is restricted to child abduction cases that could be life threatening.
MISSING/ENDANGERED PERSON ADVISORY: A MEPA Advisory is initiated solely by Montana law enforcement agencies using the following criteria, according to the MT DOJ:

  1. Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert?
  2. Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
  3. Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
  4. Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person? The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.