When a child goes missing, many times police have to make a decision to issue either an Amber or a Silver Alert, and Eyewitness News explains the difference between the two.
Last Friday, five children were reported missing in Connecticut with Silver Alerts issued for each one.
State police told Eyewitness News it all comes down to whether or not they believe that child's life is in danger as to whether an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert is issued. The Amber Alert system was developed specifically for stranger abductions.
However, a mother of the two little girls in Torrington told Eyewitness News that the alert system should be used for all kids.
On Friday, Jennifer Wheeler, 27, took her sister's two kids and went on a "drug binge."
"I could not stop crying," said mother Melissa Sturz. "They told me to let them go. They were just on a sleepover."
The 3- and 5-year-old children, who were the subject of a Silver Alert, are home safe with Sturz.
The problem is that sleepover wasn't supposed to happen. Police said instead of returning the girls to their mother, their aunt took them overnight to a house in Waterbury where she did drugs.
Now the girls are starting to talk about what they saw, including some needles.
"Where they were somebody was giving people shots," Sturz said. "I asked them if they had any. They said no. They don't like shots."
The question is being raised of whether alerts such as these should be classified as an Amber instead of a Silver Alert. Silver Alerts were traditionally sounded for the elderly, but now include anyone who may be in need of help.
The United States Department of Justice lists specific recommendations for when an Amber Alert should be issued. The following items are needed:
An actual abduction
Risk of serious bodily injury or death
Good descriptions of the suspect and victim
Victim needs to be under 18
"There's no research to show with Amber Alerts even, that they're highly effective, other than making everyone aware," said Central Connecticut State University professor of Criminology Stephen Cox.
Cox said he feels more research needs to be done on Amber Alerts.
According to a 2007 University of Nevada study, "The alerts appear to work better when the suspect is a family member, instead of a stranger."
"The danger is, when the Amber Alert system was passed, not to overuse it, if we get bombarded with these messages we're just not gonna think about it, take notice."
However, Sturz said she thinks Amber Alerts should be issued faster and more frequently.
"I just don't want to see anybody else go through what I went through," Sturz said.
Sturz said she plans on getting the girls counseling, but physically, they checked out OK at the hospital.
Wheeler was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia as well as two counts of risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment.
Wheeler was arraigned in Bantam Superior Court Friday. Her case was transferred to Litchfield Superior Court because she has pending charged there. She is being held on $50,000 bond.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 2:29 PM EDT2013-05-22 18:29:48 GMT
? CBS 5
Follow @JadiannCBS5, @reporterjmiguel and @elizabetherwin for updates from Jodi Arias murder trial in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. [Text BREAKING to 23765 to get breaking news alertsMore >
Get live updates from CBS 5 News reporters as the jury deliberates the fate of Jodi Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 1:32 PM EDT2013-05-22 17:32:40 GMT
Only on five tonight... A former assistant police chief in glendale is breaking his silence about his demotion - suspension and the family crisis at the center of it all. Former assistant chief gregMore >
Former Glendale assistant police chief Greg Dominguez is breaking his silence about his demotion, suspension and the family crisis at the center of it all.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 1:36 PM EDT2013-05-22 17:36:14 GMT
(Source: CBS 5 News)
Be the first to find out when the jury reaches a verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial. She's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, at his Mesa home in 2008. The jury is deliberatingMore >
Be the first to find out when the jury reaches a verdict in the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:21:12 GMT
(RNN) - British officials are saying one man is dead and two others were injured in a possible terrorist attack in London on Wednesday.According to BBC News, eyewitnesses said man was attacked in a streetMore >
One man is dead after two men attacked him in broad daylight with knives and meat cleavers. More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:43 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:43:10 GMT
Saturday night's Powerball drawing
Two $1 million Powerball second-prize winning tickets were sold in Arizona from Saturday night's record-breaking jackpot. The winning tickets, which matched five out of five numbers drawn, not includingMore >
A Phoenix woman has come forward to collect her $1 million Powerball prize and says she's planning to go on a family vacation and invest the rest of her winnings.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:56:41 GMT
Jodi Arias (Source: CBS 5 News)
It is now in the hands of the 12 jurors to decide if Jodi Arias will live her life behind bars or if she'll be executed. The defense and prosecution gave their closing statement Tuesday afternoon andMore >
The jury has gone home for the day without a verdict on life or death for convicted murderer Jodi Arias.More >