Dubois Family: Cops 'Dropped the Ball'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jamie Scott Lytle/ North County Times
    Posters and ribbons decorate the streets, reminding shoppers that the 14-year-old Amber Dubois is still missing.

    The family of missing teenager Amber Dubois has criticized how Escondido Police investigators are handling the case since the teenager was last seen February 13, 2009. This weekend, as they marked the seventh month since Amber was last seen, the family raised new questions and again asked for an outside agency to review the case, according to a published report.

    "It's just frustrating because nothing has happened with the case," Carrie McGonigle said in May as she took part in a candlelight vigil at Escondido High School to mark what was then the third month Amber had been missing.

    Amber's grandmother was also at that vigil with about 50 other people.  She says that the detectives need other law enforcement agencies with more experience in missing children cases to take over the Amber's case. "I think they're doing the best they can do, and I don't think that's enough," Sheila Welch said.

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    Amber's mother wrote a letter to Escondido's Police Chief, asking him to bring in an outside task force.  She also said Amber's case needs national attention.  "I feel like it should be all over the media, I feel like everyone should be picking up the story and it should be all over the nation," McGonigle said. 

    At a Sunday prayer vigil at Escondido High School, Amber's father Moe Dubois said again that the family feels police had, "dropped the ball," with he and ex-wife McGonigle citing several alleged delays that may have hurt Amber's chances of being found, according to the North County Times.

    Among their concerns was one tip received Aug. 24 reporting seeing Amber at a business. Police were made aware of the tip and found that the business had a surveillance video but McGonigle said detectives never tried to get the tape, and after almost two weeks, the business erased it, according to the paper.

    Other outside agencies have been helping Escondido Police including the F.B.I. and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

    Escondido police spokesperson Lt. Bob Benton told the North County Times that Escondido detectives were open to allowing a person hired by the family to look at their investigative files, but other agencies involved in the investigation would also have to approve.

    Amber was last seen just after 7 a.m. Friday, February 13 about a block from Escondido High. The girl's parents said she was especially excited to get to school to exchange Valentine's Day gifts with friends. She also couldn't wait to pay for her baby lamb through the school's Future Farmer's of America program.

    The teen's cell phone was activated for a few seconds the Saturday after she was last seen but according to her parents, hasn't been used since. Investigators announced the results of a computer forensics search of the teenager's computer, saying nothing on the computer offered up any clues as to the girl's whereabouts.

    Volunteers launched a door-to-door search the weekend after Amber's disappearance. In the weeks that followed, family and friends held candlelight vigils and organized search parties to cover areas of Escondido and parts of the North County.

    Even the television program "America's Most Wanted" has profiled the case. The family told producers of the show that Amber sent four texts to her grandmother before leaving the house that morning for the roughly mile long walk to school. Amber was last seen by two family friends only about 300 yards from the school's gate.

    Amber’s family says Amber was a model student who never talked about running away and they believe she was abducted.