The Amber Hagerman Case

By Amanda Conrath

Background of the Crime

78-year-old Jim Kevil said that he had seen 9-year-old Amber Hagerman riding her bike up and down the block before a man in a pickup truck pulled up to her and grabbed her. Then he decided to call the police, to whom he described the truck as "dark, possibly black," and that "the abductor was white or Hispanic." Local police, volunteers and the FBI went all out in a massive search. Earlier, a truck that looked almost identical to that of the kidnapper's was seen outside a nearby laundromat before Amber was taken. Unfortunately, they never located it.


Near the Forest Hill Apartments four days later, which is just a few miles from where Amber had been kidnapped, a man was walking his dog. In a creek next to the path he took his dog on walks, he saw a young girl's body. It turned out to be Amber Hagerman's body. When an autopsy had been determined by investigators, they found out that Amber had been alive for two days and was sexually assaulted during this period. Her throat had been cut, resulting in her death before her body had been abandoned.

Investigators

The Arlington police and the FBI had formed a task force in order to search for the murderer for four days straight after Amber's death. Mark Simpson is the sergeant who lead the entire investigation, and Jim Ford was the lead detective. Ever since the case went cold in 1999, the Arlington Police Department are still on the case to this very day.

After Ford's retirement in 2010, Ben Lopez took over Amber Hagerman's case; he worked on the case for eight months back in 1996 as a rookie detective on the Task Force. Lopez said that the APD has investigated about 6,800 leads, and every month ever since then, he receives at least three to four tips.

History of the Time Period

This incident occurred on the afternoon of January 13, 1996, almost two decades ago. Amber had been riding her bike with her 5-year-old brother, Ricky Hagerman, to an abandoned Winn-Dixie grocery store. She and her brother liked to ride their bikes in the parking lot. About a block away from the place, Ricky turned to go back home a few minutes later, but he was alone. His sister hadn't returned with him.


To everyone who lived around the area, it was highly unusual for the kidnapping of Amber to happen. Stranger abductions were rare, and unfortunately, the most difficult to solve in an investigation. The police and investigators theorized that it was a "crime of opportunity," which means that the kidnapper saw Amber being alone as an opportunity and took that moment to grab her.


Back in the 90s, they had some very useful forensic techniques, such as fingerprinting, DNA and fiber analysis. Although, since this was a case of a kidnapping that happened in the blink of an eye, and Amber's body was found with only a few fibers, investigators barely had anything to go off of in order to track the killer. They hardly left a trace.

Psychological Profile: Why Would Anyone Do This?

There are several reasons why people kidnap children. Be it for financial gain by holding the kid hostage until their family gives them the money. Even then, they may or may not return the child.

Sometimes it's because the kidnapper cannot have a child themselves, so they go out of their way to take someone else's kid, attempting to raise it as their own. Unfortunately if the child is taken at a very young age, they wouldn't be able to tell that the person isn't their biological parent.

People who are sick in the head and mentally ill will kidnap children for sexual gratification. Children are less assertive and in control than adults are, so the kidnapper will sexually assault the child because they know that they won't put up a fight.

A less common reason is having a hatred towards children. These people are also usually mentally ill. They resent children typically due to their own childhood being messed up or bad in some way. Maybe they were neglected or abused themselves as a child, so they feel the need to take that out on another kid.


In the Amber Hagerman case, the kidnapper had done this for the worst and sickest of all the reasons possible.

Suspects & Evidence

Police are still trying to find new leads with hardly anything to go off of today. Since the case had 'gone cold' back in 1999, it wasn't until 2010-2011 that they had a brand new lead to go off of. Sharon and Buddy Anderson were both arrested at their apartment in Ennis, Texas for possessing at least 200 VHS tapes of graphic child pornography. All of this was found out to be photographed and taped by a man who now lives in Arizona, Bill N. Fry, who is a relative of the Anderson couple.


The biggest lead the Arlington Police Department has ever had in 20 years involves Bill N. Fry. The Tarrant County Observer highly believe that he just might be the one who took Amber Hagerman's life. Everything that they have discovered about this man point to her murder:


  • He drove a black GMC 1500, which resembles a Chevy Cheyenne (almost dead-on to the dark truck described by Jim Kevil back in 1996)
  • He possessed a master key to every vacant HUD home in Arlington, Texas
  • Multiple eyewitnesses saw a pair of girl’s panties in his console, said to be covered in blood at his home in Ferris, Texas (he later set them on fire)
  • Relatives and co-workers said that he was constantly looking for prostitutes in North Arlington
  • Family members told detectives that he left Texas abruptly right after Amber's death; they say that they had no idea why
  • He got plastic surgery done to his face before he eventually returned
  • In 1998, he moved to Chino, Arizona
  • His neighbors saw him "religiously washing and vacuuming" his truck
  • An indictment that he had for slashing his stepson's throat in 1998 was dismissed; Amber's throat was also cut when they found her body

Theories & Conclusion

The Arlington and Ennis Police Department both really believe that they may have found their killer. With all of the evidence that piles up against Bill N. Fry, from the child pornography to the massive amounts of eyewitness accounts against him, they are hoping that this man turns himself in. On the Tarrant Country Observer's website, at the very bottom of the homepage, there is a very personal note to Bill:


"Bill N. Fry, The Ellis County Observer asks you to do the right thing today: turn yourself in. Please surrender to authorities today, in Arizona, and get this over with. Confess your crimes, turn yourself in and please, let’s end this cycle today. End it now. The children, parents and relatives of your victims and of your relatives’ victims and your friends’ victims deserve justice once and for all. I know the family history — the molestations, the “sharing” and the intra-family relationships. It’s sick. But it’s got to end, Bill. It has to end once and for all. Please…for justice’s sake. Please… turn yourself in today. Bill N. Fry, you cannot run any more. You must do the right thing."


This definitely leads everyone to believe that they feel like they have found the right person who committed the horrible murder of Amber Hagerman two decades ago. The only good thing to come out of the case is the creation of the Amber Alert, which has helped apprehend over 500+ criminals for kidnapping/abduction.

Bibliography

Waters, Robert A. "Kidnapping, Murder and Mayhem." The Unsolved Murder of Amber Hagerman. Blogger.com, 10 Sept. 2009. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://kidnappingmurderandmayhem.blogspot.com/2009/09/unsolved-murder-of-amber-hagerman.html>.


Crawford, Selwyn, and Wendy Hundley. "15 Years Later, Arlington Police Still Struggling to Solve Amber Hagerman Case." Dallas News. The Dallas Morning News, 12 Jan. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2015. <http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/arlington/headlines/20110112-15-years-later-arlington-police-still-struggling-to-solve-amber-hagerman-case.ece>.


Boyd, Deanna. "15 Years Later, Still No Justice for Amber Hagerman." Star-telegram. Star-Telegram, 12 Jan. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2015. <http://www.star-telegram.com/living/family/moms/article3827097.html>.


"Amber Hagerman Case Updates." The Tarrant County Observer. Wordpress, 06 Nov. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2015. <https://tarrantcountyo.wordpress.com/amber-hagerman-case-updates/>.


"Tip Leads to Hope in Solving Amber Hagerman's Murder." WFAA.com. WFAA Staff, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2015 <http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/crime/2014/08/11/13694414/>.


Amber Hagerman. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/54/Amber_Hagerman.jpg>.