Late last Sunday evening the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was notified of two missing juvenile females from Tomahawk. Both of the girls were sixteen, one living in the Town of Rock Falls the other living in the City of Tomahawk.The parents related to the investigating deputy that they were supposed to go to the movies in Merrill and then return home but they had never arrived.
Extensive efforts were made to locate the two girls. Deputies spent hours checking all possible routes between Merrill and Tomahawk as Merrill Police Officers searched the city and area near the theater.Law enforcement officers throughout the state were asked to be on the lookout for the girls as the dispatch center worked with cell phone companies attempting to locate them.
Just after noon on Monday it was found the pair were in Oshkosh and police there found them and held them until their parents arrived.
The events of this were played out to the media and questions were raised via social media about the efforts of law enforcement and why the Amber Alert system was not utilized.
The Sheriff’s Office, like all law enforcement in the United States is bound by the strict criteria of the Amber Alert program. Any Amber Alert in Wisconsin is sent to the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. Dane County authorities then insure the alert meets the criteria before it is sent out.
According to a statement from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, at no time did this incident meet the strict criteria of an Amber Alert. “We appreciate the help of the media and the concerns of both the media and the public when two girls go missing, but we are bound by laws and procedures and can only release so much information in cases such as these,” the statement reads.