Amber Alert stamp unveiled
LANCASTER – Two young Antelope Valley women rescued in 2002 in the first use in California of the Amber Alert system helped unveil Friday a postage stamp commemorating the system that uses radio and television broadcasts and freeway signs to help find abducted children. Tamara Brooks, now a 19-year-old UCLA political science student, took part in an Orange County ceremony with the mother of Samantha Runnion, the 5-year-old girl whose abduction and murder galvanized state officials into creating the California Amber Alert system. Jackie Marris, now 21 and running her own interior design business as well as working at a Palmdale restaurant, attended a Lancaster ceremony with Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, who as an Assemblyman had pushed for more than a year to get the Amber Alert started in California before Samantha’s murder. “People need to remember it could be their child someday, or somebody they know,” said Marris’ mother Nadine Dyer after the Lancaster ceremony. “People always take for granted every day’s going to be fine…and it doesn’t always work out that way.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Added Sharon Brooks, Tamara’s mother, at the Lancaster ceremony: “Without this program, Jackie and Tamara would just be memories in our minds.” Marris choked up during the news conference and had to pause while encouraging people to ask for the Amber Alert stamps. She told reporters later: “It kind of brings me back to everything.” Asked what she thought of the stamp, Marris had to pause again. “I’m trying to keep my composure,” she said. The stamp image shows the faces of a mother and child embracing, reproducing a pastel illustration by artist Vivienne Flesher. Printed on the stamp are the words: “Amber Alert saves missing children.” The image reminds her of being in the hospital where she and Tamara were taken after their rescue, Marris said. The 39-cent stamp was unveiled at the California ceremonies as well as at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and in Texas, where the alert program started in 1996 after the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. The stamp follows a Postal Service tradition of issuing stamps to draw attention to social issues, including organ donation, adoption, domestic violence and children’s health, said Stacia Crane, the Postal Service’s local consumer affairs manager. The girls’ Aug. 1, 2002, abduction and rescue could hardly have been more dramatic. Brooks, an Antelope Valley High School student government leader and track star, and Marris, a Highland High School cheerleader, were abducted by a fugitive ex-convict from a Quartz Hill hilltop teen hangout. The kidnapper bound with duct tape the young men they were with, and drove off with the girls in a stolen SUV. During hours of crisscrossing Southern California, as a thousand freeway signs and radio and television repeated the license number and description of the white Ford Bronco, the drunken captor at one point parked and fell asleep. The girls stabbed him with his hunting knife, hit him in the face with a whiskey bottle, and shoved him out of the Bronco. Bloodied, he pointed his gun at them and threatened to kill them unless they unlocked the door. Then the SUV was spotted: first by a highway worker on Highway 178 in Kern County, then by an animal control officer who saw it turning onto a dirt road east of Lake Isabella. Two Kern County sheriff’s deputies found the Bronco and cornered it in a dry wash. When the driver pulled out a gun, the deputies opened fire as the girls screamed in the back seat. Neither girl was hurt. Thirty-seven-year-old Roy Dean Ratliff of Rosamond, a parolee who had been on the run for 10 months, was killed. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said the rescue depended on the sightings from the public, despite an all-out police manhunt. “The two girls, as brave as they were, needed help. The help couldn’t come just from law enforcement. It needed to come from the public as well,” said Lt. Steve Smith, the Lancaster sheriff’s station watch commander during the hunt. Since the girls’ abduction, Amber Alerts have been issued in California 87 times, resulting in the rescue of 115 youngsters. “They’ve all been rescued. It’s been 100 percent,” Runner said. [email protected] (661) 267-5742160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!