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Lily Peters murder sparks debate over problems with Amber Alert guidelines

Apparently, Lily Peters' murder case didn't fulfill all the criteria for an Amber Alert notice to be issued
Lily Peters, 10, suffered blunt force trauma and strangulation as per the autopsy (Chippewa Fall PD)
Lily Peters, 10, suffered blunt force trauma and strangulation as per the autopsy (Chippewa Fall PD)

Considering the gruesome murder of 10-year-old Lily Peters, a Wisconsin senator has promised to review the existing Amber Alert system for missing children, while a petition calling for the creation of a "Lily Alert" grows in popularity. Wisconsin State Rep Jesse James said he planned to talk with local police chiefs  “about what is in place and look at possibilities for improvement” when children are reported missing in the state, according to a document posted on the petition website.

“We are not sure yet what can and will be able to be changed,” it reads.“Creating legislation is a slow process but be assured that this issue is very much on Rep James’ radar.” Lily's dead body was discovered in a forested area near a walking route, prompting a petition started by local Chippewa Falls resident Eric Henry. 


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On April 24, when the fourth-grader failed to come home from her aunt's house — a six-minute walk or two-minute bike ride away – her father reported her missing at 9 pm on Sunday night. A search was initiated to find the missing youngster, and her bike was discovered later that night along the woodland route. Lily was discovered dead beside the trail at about 9:15 am on Monday. She had been raped, strangled, and had been subjected to blunt force injuries, the autopsy stated. There had been no Amber Alert issued for the 10-year-old.

What is Amber Alert?

An Amber Alert is an emergency child abduction alert that is sent to the general public as soon as a child goes missing. It contains details on the child and the abduction, such as the child's description, and allows members of the public to provide tips. The Amber Rene Hagerman alert system was initially implemented in 1996, following the kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Rene Hagerman in Texas.

An Amber Alert must fulfill three parameters, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, in order to be issued in the state. The child must be 17 years old or younger; the initiating agency must have sufficient descriptive information about the child, the suspect, and/or the suspect vehicle to believe that an immediate broadcast alert will aid in the child's location; and the child must be in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death. However, it appears that there was insufficient information at the time of Lily's disappearance to fulfill the criteria.

Henry said in the petition that there is a need to be "more proactive" when a child goes missing, and that "something more" is needed. “An amber alert was never sent due to the rules around what constitutes its use. We need something more. Any parent would agree that when a child is missing even for a short amount of time and they need help then help should be sent,” it reads. “The community is devastated and rallied to start a search group for the missing child. We can do better as a community and must be more proactive. “We need an alert with less regulations around it so we can respond quicker to missing children.”

In an interview with Kare11, said: "There are a lot of scenarios that clearly don't meet the requirements for an AMBER Alert," Henry said. "The petition was just to get the ball rolling, and just get a discussion in place. To see, could we do more?"

As of Friday, April 29, the petition had gathered over 69,000 signatures. It's one of the most popular petitions on the site.