It has now been six days since five-year-old Leonine O’Driscoll-Zak and two-year-old Wyatt O’Driscoll-Zak were last seen at their home in rural Cochrane.
The girls are suspected to be with their grandmother 68-year-old Therese O’Driscoll and aunt, 38-year-old Alison O’Driscoll.
The disappearance of the children is being investigated as an abduction that stems from custody issues. A reoccurring question that many Albertans following the case are asking is – why hasn’t an AMBER alert been issued?
Mounties have stated that there isn’t enough evidence to issue an AMBER alert; the public notification system used to help locate an abducted child, or adult with a proven mental or physical disability.
Corporal Troy Savinkoff with the Cochrane RCMP weighs in.
“There’s several different parts to that criteria and it’s very strict, it’s not movable,” says Savinkoff. “I can say that although there hasn’t been an AMBER alert, the RCMP obviously through our Media Liaisons put out all the possible information that we can despite that.”
Before an Amber alert is issued, law enforcement will conduct a thorough investigation and collect the information necessary to issue it.
AMBER alert criteria vary from province to province. Here in Alberta, four criteria must be met in order for officers to activate an AMBER Alert, They include:
a child or an adult with a proven mental or physical disability has been abducted
the child or adult is in danger of serious harm or death
there’s enough descriptive information to enable the public to identify the:
child or adult
mode of transportation
there’s a reasonable expectation the abductee could be returned, or the abductor could be apprehended.
Savinkoff says that the local RCMP and Major Crimes Unit are receiving tips from around the country to help in their search for the missing children.
“We have been getting different tips from across the Country really with concerned people that might have some information,” says Savinkoff. “Certainly, we definitely encourage those to continue. We have a team of officers right now who are investigating that and trying to return these children and that will continue.”
The release from RCMP earlier this week states that “Further comments about the rationale behind this will not be provided in an effort to protect aspects of this investigation.”
The father of the missing girls, Colin Zak strongly believes that an AMBER alert should be issued. He says that he worries for the safety of his daughters, and he is pleading with the public to share any information that may be helpful in returning his children home safely.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of the missing individuals you are urged to contact the Cochrane RCMP, and if you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers.