Before Jiraiya Cherry's AMBER Alert rang throughout Virginia Thursday evening, information on the 3-month-old's abduction had already been online for several hours.
Officers had first responded to the case just before 10:30 a.m., while the AMBER Alert was issued at 4:57 p.m. The first public notification for the case was released at 4:15 p.m., according to Newport News police.
Meanwhile, Jiraiya's photo and information had already been active online for several hours on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website.
The NCMEC has immediate access to the Virginia Criminal Information Network and the National Crime Information Center, which contained Jiraiya Cherry's description, and why the case's information existed online before the first round of public alerts.
The AMBER Alert itself, however, is issued by Virginia State Police once five pieces of certain criteria are met.
In a statement to 13News Now, a spokesperson for VSP said:
As soon as the Newport News Police Department contacted the Virginia State Police to request an AMBER Alert activation, state police immediately began working with Newport News Police to collect the necessary information and photograph(s) required for an activation. However, Newport News did not have enough information at that stage of their ongoing investigation to fulfill the necessary criteria for an AMBER Alert. State police then offered the option of activating an Endangered Child Alert. During the course of those discussions and as Newport News was able to develop and confirm additional information related to this incident, the AMBER Alert criteria were adequately met and the AMBER Alert was activated.
All five of the following criteria must be met before an AMBER Alert can be issued:
- The abducted child must be 17 years of age or younger or is currently enrolled in a secondary school in the Commonwealth, regardless of age, and the law enforcement agency believes the child has been abducted (unwillingly taken from their environment without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian).
- The law enforcement agency believes the missing child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.
- A law enforcement investigation has taken place that verified the abduction or eliminated alternative explanations.
- Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the child, suspect, and/or the suspect’s vehicle.
- The Child must be entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) missing person files as soon as practical.
Authorities found Jiraiya Cherry in Chesterfield, VA hours after the AMBER Alert was issued.