On June 4, 2022, shortly before 10:00 PM, Hunt County patrol deputies were dispatched to Private Road 2530 in Quinlan in reference to a missing person. When deputies arrived at the location, they received information that Cynthia Rich, a 59-year-old female had walked away from the Individual Care of Texas.
The Hunt County Criminal Investigation Unit was immediately notified, and a search was conducted that lasted through the night. The investigation into the missing person included a CLEAR Alert issued through the Texas Department of Public Safety. With the assistance of CART (Northeast Texas Child Abduction Response Team), including Lone Star Search and Rescue and East Texas CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Ms. Rich was located safe and in good physical health at approximately 6:17 AM on June 5, 2022.
Sheriff Terry Jones stated that “This is the type of scenario all these agencies trained for on Friday and immediately had to put their training to use. I would like to express my appreciation to my team at the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and to all the other agencies that worked together in locating this missing person”.
A CLEAR Alert is a Coordinated Law Enforcement Adult Rescue and was created in 2019. The alert was created to fill in the gap between missing children (AMBER Alert) or senior citizens (Silver Alert). A CLEAR Alert helps law enforcement find missing, kidnapped or abducted adults or those who are in immediate danger of injury or death. The alert also helps law enforcement find any potential suspects.
In order to issue a CLEAR alert, the following criteria must be met, according to DPS:
- The person who is missing is between the ages of 18 and 64
- A preliminary investigation verified that the adult is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death OR the adult’s disappearance is involuntary, such as an abduction or kidnapping
- The request must come within 72 hours of the adult’s disappearance
- Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public to help locate the adult, a suspect or vehicle used in the incident
Once a law enforcement agency determines that a case satisfies the criteria, a request must be made to DPS. Another alert that law enforcement sometime request to issue is an Endangered Missing Person Alert. Similar to wandering incidents in older adults with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, those with intellectual disabilities (Autism, Developmental Disorders etc.), are also prone to wandering into unsafe environments. In 2011 Texas AMBER Alert legislation was updated to include alerts for missing persons (of any age) with an intellectual disability. In order to avoid public confusion with AMBER Alerts for abducted children, the name “Endangered Missing Persons Alert” was selected. The criteria for an Endangered Missing Persons Alert for the state’s network is as follows:
- Has the missing person been diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability and/or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, including Asperger’s Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett’s Disorder or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. If the missing person has been diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability, law enforcement shall require a written diagnosis from a physician or psychologist licensed to practice within Texas, or certified by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and/or Texas Department of State Health Services.
- Is it confirmed that an investigation has taken place, verifying that a reasonable explanation for the missing person’s disappearance has been ruled out and that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the health and safety of the missing person?
- Is the Endangered Missing Persons Alert request being made within 72 hours of the missing person’s disappearance?
- Is there sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the missing person?
The Hunt County Sheriff’s Office wants to make the public aware of one very important requirement of an Endangered Missing Person Alert. That is the requirement for documentation of the diagnosis. On multiple occasions the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office have responded to incidents where all of the elements of the criteria for an Endangered Missing Person were meet except for the requirement of the documentation. The Hunt County Sheriff’s Office ask that if you have a family member or are responsible for the care of an individual that would qualify for an Endangered Missing Person Alert should they go missing, to obtain the documentation of the persons diagnosis and keep it in a safe place that you can access quickly if needed. If an event where someone who would qualify goes missing having the documentation would save valuable time in getting information out that could help find the missing person.