‘This case will get solved’: Arlington police hope DNA evidence in Amber Hagerman’s case will lead to – The Dallas Morning News


Arlington police announced Wednesday that they’ll resubmit DNA evidence in the 1996 kidnapping of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, in hopes technological advancements can help catch her killer.

In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, investigators acknowledged for the first time that they have genetic evidence in the case.

At a news conference Wednesday marking the 25th anniversary of Amber’s disappearance, police renewed their pleas to the public for any tips that could help bring answers for Amber’s family.

“We’re submitting evidence that we’ve maintained for 25 years, that we believe could possibly provide us with results that could be a DNA profile,” said Detective Grant Gildon, who now leads the investigation.

Amber was abducted Jan. 13, 1996, while she was riding her bike in a parking lot in Arlington. The man who called 911 is the only witness who has come forward since that day.

Four days later, her body was found in a creek bed.

Police are still using the same suspect description they provided in 1996: a white or Hispanic man under 6 feet with a medium build and black or brown hair who would have been in his 20s or 30s at the time of the crime.

Amber Hagerman’s mother Donna Williams waits to speak during a news conference at the site where her daughter was abducted 25 years ago in Arlington. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

He drove a full-size fleetside single-cab black pickup with a short wheelbase, police said. It was in good condition, with no damage, no chrome or striping and a clear rear window.

Gildon declined to provide specifics about what evidence police will submit because that’s information known only to them and Amber’s murderer.

Recent breakthroughs in other cold cases give detectives hope, he said. Genealogical DNA testing solved the 1974 Fort Worth slaying of Carla Walker and has led to the arrest of the Golden State Killer.

Police said the technology they plan to use in Amber’s case is still being developed but could be ready for testing as early as February. They declined to provide further details.

“We believe this case will get solved,” Gildon said. “We believe that there’s no way the killer in this case could have committed the crime in the manner that they did without someone seeing, hearing or having some knowledge of what happened. We believe someone out there still has information that can help.”

Donna Williams, Amber’s mother, arrived early to the news conference Wednesday to lay a bouquet of pink roses at a small memorial in the parking lot where her daughter was kidnapped. She wore a button with Amber’s photograph and a gold necklace with her name.

“It still feels like it was yesterday,” she said. “It’s still raw.”

Williams said Amber was smart and loved taking care of her little brother. In a collage she brought to the news conference — propped on an easel next to crime scene photographs and maps — Amber’s short life was displayed in family pictures. Christmases and Easters and Halloweens, next to photos of memorial crosses and a grave marker.

The abduction led to the creation of the Amber Alert system, which helps law enforcement quickly distribute information about missing children. Across the country, 988 children have been found safe through the system as of May 2020, according to the Justice Department.

“She’s still taking care of little children like she did her younger brother,” Williams said. “I’m very, very proud of my daughter.”

She encouraged anyone who knows something about her daughter’s murder to come forward. The detectives agreed that even a small piece of information could be important.

“The tip that’s going to get us there is still out there,” Gildon said.

Arlington police have set up a new tips line — 817-575-8823 — to gather information about the case, and Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.