The Montana Department of Justice issued an AMBER Alert for three children in Cascade County on Thursday morning, and by mid-afternoon, all three had been found and were safe – and the people responsible had been taken into custody.
The alert said that the three children were taken during the night, possibly by non-custodial parents who have a history of drug use and violence. The alert stated: “Children believed to be in life threatening danger.”
The children are Raelynn Demontigny, 5 years old; Lianna Demontigny, 3; and Tony Demontigny, 1. The AMBER Alert identified the suspects as Tony Demontigny, 28, and Ellaura Wright, 30.
The alert noted that there were two vehicles that they may be driving: a white Chevrolet Malibu, and a blue Chevrolet Tahoe.
KIFI in Idaho reported that a cell phone belonging to one of the suspects was last pinged in the Salmon, Idaho area, and the two vehicles were believed to be traveling as a caravan.
At about 3:20 p.m., the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the children had been found and were safe.
During a press conference about an hour later, Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter confirmed that they were found in Idaho, and the adults in the case had been apprehended.
Demontigny and Wright each are facing three felony charges of custodial interference. Also taken into custody was the child's grandfather, Anthony Demontigny, Sr., who is facing three felony charges of accountability to custodial interference.
Tony Demontigny and Ellaura Wright remain in custody in Idaho awaiting extradition back to Great Falls.
Whenever a child is reported missing in Montana, law enforcement agencies work quickly to determine the circumstances, and whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert, or a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory (MEPA).
The AMBER Alert program started in Texas in 1996 after 9-year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. In response to community concern, broadcasters in the area teamed up with law enforcement agencies to establish a program capable of quickly distributing information about child abductions to the general public.
In memory of Amber, the program was called the AMBER Plan – America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.
In Montana, officials also have the option of issuing a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory.
Here is the difference between the two:
To initiate an AMBER Alert, call 9-1-1 and provide your local law enforcement agency with all the information you can about a suspected child abduction. To activate the program, all of the following criteria must be met:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that a child has been abducted or has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
- The missing child is age 17 years or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
- The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.
The AMBER Alert system is not used to track runaways, missing children or children involved in custody disputes. The program is restricted to child abduction cases that could be life threatening.MISSING/ENDANGERED PERSON ADVISORYA MEPA Advisory is initiated solely by Montana law enforcement agencies using the following criteria:
- Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert?
- Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
- Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
- Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person? The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.