Texas Amber Alert for 5 Missing Children Has Happy Ending

Texas Amber Alert for 5 Missing Children Has Happy Ending

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Earlier this week, Texas law enforcement issued an urgent Amber Alert. Five children, ranging from 11 months to 10 years old, were missing. At the time, the officials believed the children were in grave and immediate danger.

The Missing Kids

The children, all siblings, were described as follows in the Amber Alert:

  • Justine Kaylee Lopez, white, female, 10 years old, 4’ 05”, 80 lbs, black hair, black eyes.
  • Jolyne Kaylynn Lopez, white, female, 9 years old, 4’ 03”, 60 lbs black hair, and black eyes
  • Ruben Lopez jr, white, male, 7 years old
  • Jordan Lopez, white, male, 4 years old, 3’ 3”, 40 lbs, black hair, and black eyes
  • Jayden Lee Lopez, white, male, 11 months old

The main suspect was the children’s father, Ruben Lopez. However, police were also looking for a woman named Roxanne Fuentes in connection with the missing kids.

The couple was last seen driving a gray 2008 Chevy Trail Blazer with Texas plates. It appeared that the children’s father and his current girlfriend had taken the kids without permission. After several hours of frantic searching, the Amber Alert was called off.

Parental Kidnappings

Although the Lopez children were found safely, that’s sadly not often the case. It might surprise you to learn that the majority of kidnapped children aren’t abducted by a stranger but by one of their own parents.

Tragically, children are kidnapped by their non-custodial parent regularly across the country. And because the kids are with a parent, law enforcement may be more hesitant to get involved.

According to the Justice Department statistics, there were 200,000 cases of parental abduction in the United States. Comparatively, less than 350 minors were abducted by strangers in the period from 2010-2017.

Domestic Violence Escalation

“Parental abduction frequently is part of a larger dynamic of domestic violence. Most left-behind parents report that the abductor physically abused them, threatened their lives and threatened to kidnap the child before doing so,” wrote law professor and abuse survivor advocate Jane K. Stoever for the Washington Post.

“Particularly when the victimized parent seeks to end the relationship, abusive partners commit abduction as a way to exert control, fulfill a quest for revenge or hurt them. And it works.”

That’s exactly what happened in the tragic case of the Gonzales sisters, who were kidnapped by their own father in 1999. Their mother had already gotten a restraining order against her abusive ex-husband.

But despite her repeated pleas to law enforcement for help, she never got her children back. Simon Gonzales had shot all three girls before being killed himself in a shootout with police.

The Lopez siblings were lucky, but it’s clear that we need stronger protections for children kidnapped by a parent.