Missing child raises questions regarding Amber Alert criteria

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JEFFERSON CITY - The search for a missing two-year-old boy and his mother ended after police in Omaha, Nebraska, found Colten Lee Dominquez and apprehended the mother, Billie Jo LInhart.

Following an anonymous tip received around 1 p.m. Friday, the Jefferson City Police Department contacted Omaha police, who found the two about an hour later.

Following the child's abduction, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) issued an Endangered Person Advisory instead of an Amber Alert. 

"In an Amber Alert, there are some criteria that have to be met, and if those criteria are not met, then we switch over to an Endangered Person Advisory," Captain John Hotz said, regarding the distinction between the two.

Hotz is the director of the public information and education division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He said four criteria must be met before an Amber Alert is issued. 

"Number one, has an abduction occurred; number two, does it involve a child 17 years of age or younger; number three, are they in danger of serious injury or death; and number four, is there enough information to put an alert out that's going to be useful," Hotz said. 

The endangered person advisory issued on Colton Lee Dominquez, included details of the car Linhart was driving and that she was likely headed to Nebraska.

Both an Amber Alert and an Endangered Person Advisory are filed through the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Hotz also said that an Endangered Person Advisory can be upgraded to an Amber Alert if enough information is gathered to justify the change. 

"There have been cases where the threshold for an Amber Alert were not met initially, so we issue an Endangered Person Advisory," Hotz said.

Arrangements are currently underway to to return the boy to his legal guardian. Linhart will be transported to the Cole County Jail at a later date.