Many people across Missouri have wondered why no AMBER Alert was issued for a missing Pleasant Hope father and his two sons.
Darrell Peak and his two young boys, Mayson and Kaiden, were found dead near Warsaw on Monday.
Missouri State Highway Patrol says the case did not meet certain criteria. While no one with the MSHP headquarters would do a camera interview with KY3, the agency issued a statement instead.
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol issued a state-wide Endangered Person Advisory for Darrell Peak, Kaiden Peak, and Mayson Peak,” the statement read. “This advisory informed the media, the public, and law enforcement agencies across the state of the situation involving the Peak family. An AMBER Alert was not issued, as the statutory requirements for the activation of an AMBER Alert were not met.”
It was 16 hours after Darrell Peak left his home on Thursday when authorities were notified to be on the lookout.
“Any and every lead that is coming in we’re following,” Greene County Deputy Jason Winston told KY3 prior to the discovery. “We’re exhausting this investigation in every way we know how.”
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said it asked several times for an amber alert to be issued.
Requirements for issuing an Amber Alert include timely requests, as more time goes by, the usefulness of an alert diminishes. Alert requirements also note parental disputes do not apply unless there is concern that a child could be harmed.
Some wonder why Peak’s history of depression and suicidal thoughts did not merit an AMBER Alert.
”My understanding is the family, the wife or a family member, went on the air and said he would never hurt his children,” Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox said. “My mindset is the family didn’t think he would ever do something like that, therefore it doesn’t meet the criteria.”
Would that have changed if authorities feared Peak could hurt his two sons?
”Yes, I believe it would have,” Knox said. “Again I cannot speak for their people, but if you meet all the criteria of the AMBER Alert there is no reason they couldn’t do one.”
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office previously told KY3 about their AMBER Alert attempts.
”We would definitely like for this issue to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert, but at the same time we realize criteria is in place for a reason,” Winston said.
After this case, Sheriff Knox said many have asked him if the AMBER Alert system should be changed.
“My statement to that would be no,” he said. “The AMBER Alert is set up with criteria that is fairly stringent to keep that very serious when an amber alert goes off.”
Knox fears a change could lead to people ignoring alerts.
”Something we see day in and day out is people fighting, take off with the kids,” he said. “Happens all the time. I think everybody did exactly what they could do with the information they had. If you set off an AMBER Alert for every husband and wife that had an argument and walked away with the kids, people would ignore it. It would be a nuisance instead of something serious.”
Knox said he feels this case does draw attention to the need for more mental health outreach efforts at the state level.
“Society lets these people down,” he said. “We do not have the proper mechanisms in place to deal with mental illness anymore. And at the state level I think there needs to be help for mental illness.”
By Michael Van Schoik | KY3