An East Oregon AMBER alert is credited with foiling a kidnapping at the Oregon-Nevada border.
Oregon's 16th AMBER Alert activation since the program's inception over six years ago culminated with the safe recovery of a 5-year old boy taken from a foster care home in Hines, Oregon. The AMBER alert helped generate three known sightings before law enforcement agencies stopped a suspect vehicle across the Oregon / Nevada border.
On April 22, 2009 at approximately 10 a.m. an AMBER Alert was activated in Oregon at the request of Harney County Sheriff's Office to help find Masson Weller, 5, who was taken from a Hines, Oregon foster home by his mother, Myranda Elaine Denny, 27.
Officials believed the boy was driven from the area and was endangered. An adult male identified as Mark Steven Arey, age 48, from Eugene, was with Denny in a black 1995 Toyota Camry four door with Oregon license plates.
Prior to the AMBER Alert activation, police agencies in Oregon, Idaho and Nevada were notified of the vehicle, suspect and child information. Oregon Department of Transportation, a partner in the AMBER Alert program, also notified their area employees by radio.
OSP troopers out of Bend, Burns and Prineville quickly covered about 130 miles of highway between Bend and Burns. Deputies from counties including Harney and Deschutes, along with officers from various city police agencies also checked roadways in an attempt to find the vehicle and child.
Two OSP Fish & Wildlife Division aircraft were dispatched from the Willamette Valley and Baker City to help check some of the remote highways leading out of the Burns area that couldn't be covered as quickly by ground units.
At the request of Harney County Sheriff's Office, personnel from the OSP Criminal Investigations Division staffed a tip center in the Salem-area to handle calls related to the activation.
According to the OSP Southern Command Center (SCC) that handles dispatching responsibilities for OSP in that section of Oregon, three calls were received spotting the vehicle heading southbound on Highway 205 toward Nevada.
The first call came in at 9:40 a.m. from an ODOT flagger at a highway construction zone advising the suspect vehicle was seen about thirty minutes prior southbound on Highway 205 near milepost 25.
The second report came in at 9:55 a.m. from an ODOT employee advising the suspect vehicle was southbound north of Frenchglen near milepost 38.
A third report from a private citizen at 10:18 a.m. advised the suspect vehicle was southbound from Fields, Oregon.
SCC notified Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) and Humboldt County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) of the sightings. NHP troopers and HCSO deputies raced north toward the border to locate the suspect vehicle. OSP Sergeant Brian Williams and Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup sped south from the Burns area in separate vehicles after the first report to try and overtake the suspect vehicle.
The suspect vehicle was first spotted by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Officer Chris Johnson on Highway 205 south of Denio, who turned around to follow it while NHP and HCSO officers tried to overtake it.
Apparently spotting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife officer following them, the suspect vehicle turned around and began to head northbound. Johnson was asked to stop the suspect vehicle as deputies and troopers were catching up.
NHP troopers and HCSO deputies arrived where the suspect vehicle was stopped and subsequently took the two suspects into custody and recovered the child safely about an hour after the AMBER Alert activation. Sheriff Glerup and OSP Sergeant Williams arrived shortly after the stop to provide information as it developed.
Two OSP detectives responded to Winnemucca for follow up investigation and assist with the child's recovery. DHS officials are transporting the child back to Harney County.
"Great job done by all," said OSP East Region Captain Travis Hampton. "I'm not sure what the resolution would have been if not for the professionalism of all the combined agencies and concerned citizens."
This was the first activation of Oregon's AMBER Alert program in eastern Oregon since the program began late 2002. Since the program started, 14 children have been safely recovered in Oregon.
Additional information about Oregon's AMBER Alert program is available on the Oregon State Police website at OREGON.GOV/OSP/AMBERALERT .