Authorities defend use of Amber Alert in case of missing 8-year-old girl

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One day after an Amber Alert was canceled for an 8-year-old girl abducted by her mother in the middle of a heated custody battle, authorities defended the use of the statewide alert.

Jennifer Ansari of Fishers appeared in a Kentucky court Thursday, accused of violating court orders to hand over her daughter Sophia Snow to Snow’s father, Aaron Snow.

“I was protecting my daughter and I was taking care of my daughter,” Ansari told reporters after her initial court appearance.

An Amber Alert was issued for Sophia on Tuesday night because authorities feared she was in danger. But Ansari and her family deny that and believe the alert was unnecessary.

“This should not have happened. There should not have been an Amber Alert,” said Ansari’s mother, Wanda Wagner.

According to the Indiana State Police, an Amber Alert can only be used if:

  • The missing child is under the age of 18.
  • The child is believed to have been abducted and in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the abductor to believe the broadcast will help.
  • The request is recommended by the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction.

ISP spokesman Sgt. Rich Myers told Fox 59 all criteria were met in Sophia’s case and the Fishers Police Department made the request for the Amber Alert.

A Fishers Police spokesman told Fox 59 detectives believed Sophia was in danger because that was the terminology used in an emergency court order filed Friday by a Hamilton County Judge ordering Sophia be returned to her father’s custody.

Fox 59 learned Aaron Snow spoke to Ansari on Thursday and was so alarmed by that conversation that he flew from Florida to Indiana the next day and requested emergency custody.

Those documents are sealed, but in the probable cause affidavit for Ansari’s arrest warrant, Fishers detective David Finn writes, “Based on testimony from Snow and/or Ansari’s attorney, Sophia was deemed to be in imminent danger while in Ansari’s custody. Ansari made threats to numerous people and advised that Sophia was suicidal.”

Aaron Snow’s attorney Rodney Sarkovics told Fox 59 over the phone, “As you may imagine, (Aaron Snow) was frustrated and anxious and very nervous about the safety of Sophia.”

While ISP admits good police work, not the Amber Alert, led detectives to Sophia and her mother in Kentucky, the alert is a useful tool and should be used with caution.

“If we started putting out Amber Alerts on every child that was misplaced, lost, or taken and we didn’t have that information and the public’s looking for a blond hair blue eyed girl… how many of those are in Indianapolis, Indiana, State of Indiana, nationwide? And it pretty much loses its effectiveness,” Myers said. “We’re going to keep that criteria specific so that we’ll have something specific that the public can help us out with.”