10-year-old Found Safe After Statewide Amber Alert

A New Iberia girl who was taken Sunday afternoon has been found, Louisiana State Police said. 

The 10-year old was located Monday morning in St. Martin Parish and is being evaluated by medical personnel, state police spokesperson Trooper First Class Thomas Gossen said in a release. 

Witnesses saw the car the child was suspected to be in and called authorities, the New Iberia Police Department said in a Facebook post

Michael Sereal, of New Iberia, was arrested by St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputies. The 33-year-old is being transferred to the New Iberia Police Department where he’ll be charged with aggravated kidnapping, the department said in a Facebook post. 

One of the callers who alerted police to the vehicle made efforts to ensure the car couldn’t leave the area, the St. Martin Parish Police Office said.  

The investigation is ongoing. 

Investigators said the juvenile girl got into a sedan near Fulton Street in New Iberia. She was believed to be in imminent danger. 

Initially a Level II Endangered/Missing Child Advisory, the alert was upgraded to an Amber alert Sunday night. A notification went out on some cell phones at about 1:30 a.m. Monday. 

In January 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted from her Dallas, Texas area neighborhood while she was riding her bicycle. A neighbor witnessed the abduction and reported the incident, in detail, to the police. Unfortunately, Amber’s body was found four days later in a ditch only four miles from her home. Following this tragedy, a concerned citizen had an idea. This idea later developed into the AMBER Alert plan.

Purpose of the Louisiana AMBER Alert plan:
It is a statewide, cohesive effort between law enforcement and broadcasters, whose goal is to safely locate an abducted child within the critical two-to-three hour time period following an abduction. It is an investigative tool and not designed to be relied upon as the sole means of recovery.

While this is a national effort, there is not one, unified plan among states. Some states have statewide plans, while other states may have AMBER Alert plans on a regional or metropolitan level and each plan operates independently of one another. In fact, there are over 100 plans in the country and many are not interoperable. The Louisiana AMBER Alert plan is a statewide plan which can act in conjunction with other plans if so requested. The Louisiana AMBER Alert plan became operational in October 2002.

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