Amber Alert

Two Months After Disappearance, Amber Alert Still Key in Morales Case

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It’s been two months since 1-year-old Vanessa Morales was reported missing, and the search continues.

Law enforcement officials say keeping the toddler in the public is key for solving cases like this, and one way is through billboards still showing her face between New Haven and Bridgeport.

 “Those are active until the Amber Alert child is found,” said Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police.

The Amber Alert for Vanessa was issued December 4, two days after she was reported missing. In cases like this, a child’s face is a constant reminder.

“Sometimes you know it’s a big push to find this child, and if it’s not known to individuals that this child has still not been found, then people may not be looking for a child,” Jeltema said.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Ansonia police for an update and they have not responded to our request for an interview.

During their last news conference in December, police said a diaper bag, blanket and car seat were missing, and could be clues to finding Vanessa.

In critical cases, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a key in the Amber Alert system.

They say 30,000 children are reported missing to them each year. Less than 200 are Amber Alerts. Nearly 99 percent of those children are recovered in those cases where an Amber Alert has been issued

“It’s making the public aware that the child is missing,” said Alan Nanavaty, executive director of the Missing Children Division at NCMEC. “The more information we can get to the public the quicker the child is recovered.”

NCMEC partners with law enforcement to help get billboards up when a child is missing. They also distribute posters and send missing children information through social media.

As part of an Amber Alert Committee, Lamar Advertising donates the electronic billboard time for free. In Vanessa’s case her photo is on eight billboards across the area, keeping her case in front of as many people as possible.

“We are here, and we will continue to look for children every day until that child is found. So, every missing child needs the public’s assistance,” said Nanavaty.

"We ask them, and they keep the amber alter up as long as we ask them to," said Jeltema.

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