By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently reported its 1,000th successful recovery, the rescue of four children in Wyoming.
According to a news release shared to the Wyoming Highway Patrol’s Facebook page, the recovery occurred after the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office requested an AMBER Alert for four missing children ranging in age from 5 to 14 who are members of the Northern Arapaho tribe.
Their custodial mother, Stacia Potter-Norris, had taken them from their home outside the reservation, where the tribe had placed them for protection. A tribal court had issued a protective order to keep the 30-year-old mother away from the children.
Wyoming’s AMBER Alert program is managed by the Wyoming Highway Patrol. By using it, the WHP confirmed the children were in imminent danger.
There were sufficient descriptions of the suspect, her vehicle and the children for the public to help find them. The alert generated a lead when Potter-Norris stopped at a glass company to have a rear window of the vehicle replaced.
As she had no money, Potter-Norris offered to sell some guns in exchange for the work. She left her phone number with the clerk, who turned it over to law enforcement.
Another tip came came in when a homeless man saw the vehicle described in the alert at a truck stop. He watched Potter-Norris swapping her car with someone she appeared to know in another vehicle.
The first vehicle was found abandoned behind a Home Depot. Using the phone number the mother gave the store clerk, investigators were able to identify her movements to the Denver area.
At Fremont County’s request, the WHP requested that Colorado issue an AMBER Alert in the the state and provided updated vehicle information. Someone saw a vehicle matching that description at a Motel 6.
Using the motel’s surveillance tape, the children were found safe in a motel room, but Potter-Norris had disappeared. She was later found, arrested on felony charges and extradited back to Wyoming.
“This is a success story that could have gone really bad, really quick,” said WHP AMBER Alert Coordinator and Dispatcher Chris McGuire in a news release. “It really does show how the AMBER Alert works to safely recover children that are placed in harm.”