WISCONSIN — An AMBER Alert was issued over the weekend in connection to the disappearance of Zaniya Ivery, 5, and Cameria Banks, 4, over five days after they were initially reported missing, alongside their mother, Amarah Banks.
Their bodies were found in a garage located near 47th and Burleigh. They had last been seen near Sherman Boulevard and Green Tree Road on Feb. 8. Police said prior to Saturday, the criteria for an AMBER Alert hadn't been met.
"There's criteria that goes for an AMBER Alert for us to [be able] to issue that," said Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales at a press conference Saturday. "You have to also understand that foul play was not an initial piece of this investigation, it was a missing investigation that escalated.
What is the criteria needed to issue an AMBER Alert?
An AMBER Alert is an emergency child abduction alert that is requested by the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction. According to the Wisconsin AMBER Alert system, a local law enforcement agency must have reason to believe the child has been abducted.
The criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert is as follows:
- Child must be 17 years of age or younger
- Child must be in danger of serious bodily harm or death
- The initiating agency must have enough descriptive information about the child, the suspect(s) and/or the suspect vehicle(s) to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help locate the child
Alerts are not used for runaways or family abductions unless the child's life is believed to be in danger.
The Wisconsin AMBER Alert system said that a "strict adherence to the criteria is essential" to prevent the plan from losing its credibility or becoming less effective.
Wisconsin's AMBER Alert system was created in 2003 and has been activated around 40 times since then, according to numbers on the state AMBER Alert website.