AMBER Alert for missing Idaho kids came 11 days late

Jason Simon, Sarah Joy VanOcker-Dunn Lewis Dunn, 10, Kaylee dunn, 9, Kaydn Simon, 9
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) An AMBER Alert with traffic signs, billboards and media coverage was issued Monday for three missing Idaho children thought to be in the company of a suspected child molester.

For friends and family of the kids the alert was coming late.

"They've been missing for 11 days," says Jesse Dunn, the adoptive father of 10-year-old Lewis and 9-year-old Kaylee Dunn. "That's 11 days too much. No parent should have to go through this."

Dunn says he hasn't slept since his two children disappeared with his ex-wife Sarah Joy VanOcker-Dunn and her boyfriend, 37-year-old Jason Simon, the father of six-year-old Kaydn Simon.

Although the children are with parents, there's a special concern.
Simon is being sought in connection with a child pornography investigation. It's thought the pair fled with the children to avoid his arrest.

Idaho authorities have been looking for the children for most of two weeks, but it wasn't until Dunn held a rally on the steps of the Idaho state house that they enlisted the public's help through an AMBER Alert.

"I've been fighting every day for it," says Dunn. "I've been yelling at people. I don't know how much of a fit a grown man has to do to get something across."

The Alert came days after the children and adults were seen in Eureka, California and one day after they were seen in Sparks.

The hang-up: The children were in the company of two parents and Idaho criteria didn't consider them abducted.

Each state has its own criteria. Here in Nevada, the fact they were with family was not an issue. A spokesperson says we learned long ago that any assumption that children abducted by family members are not at risk is wrong.

"Abduction by a parent is not about custody or love," says Stephanie Parker, a member of the Nevada AMBER Alert Committee. "It's about power and revenge. In the state of Nevada the child has to be in danger of imminent bodily injury or death."

"There also has to be enough information if given to the public that would generate reliable leads to recover the kids."

And so the alerts went up here as soon as Idaho requested them.

Parker says it could be helpful if neighboring states adopted universal criteria.

"Law enforcement agencies throughout the state came together with broadcasters to say, okay, what do we need to do and how is this going to be most effective and that's what each state needs to do."

Nevada has a long experience with AMBER Alerts. The first was a local program in Washoe County, followed by a statewide program.

"It's been very successful and that's for cases that originated in Nevada and for cases that maybe started in other states and came through Nevada."

The exemption of family abductions from AMBER Alerts may be guided by the assumption that children abducted by relatives may be at lesser risk.

Parker says that's something Nevada learned wasn't true long ago.

The criteria here are simple but strict. The children must be under 18 and at risk regardless of who has them and there must be detailed information which given to the public could make a difference.

In this case, beyond everyone's pictures, that includes a description of their vehicle, a 2006 Pontiac Montana van with Idaho plates.

If you have any information call your local authorities.



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