AMBER Alert issued after cell phone pinged to wrong coordinates

LENEXA, Kan. - An AMBER Alert went out for missing teenager Nomei Velazquez in Kansas after a cell phone “ping.”

Police thought the missing Texas girl was in Lenexa near I-35. That was more than 570 miles away from Nacogdoches, Tex., where Velazquez is from.

Authorities issue AMBER Alerts to find a child quickly; it allows them to access information such as cell phone coordinates. But when that communication is cut off, they have to resort to other means.

In order to have service, your cell phone is in communication with the closest cell phone tower. With GPS tracking now on cell phones, you can be pinpointed to your exact location.

But not all phones are created equal.

“The older cell phones, few of them still around that have the phase one technology, you'd basically just get a triangulation from the cell tower and that can be a pretty broad area and that makes it difficult to pinpoint,” Dan Friesen of the Lenexa Police Department said.

In this case, the coordinates were wrong.

“If you get one number wrong or something like that, it changes the entire outcome. I don't know exactly, I can't speak to exactly what happened in this case, but they did verify that that information was in error,” Friesen said.

When police can’t get information from cell phones, that’s when they look to the public for help using the suspect and car description.

The follow are guidelines for issuing an AMBER Alert:

-Confirmed abduction
-Risk of serious bodily injury or death
-Sufficient descriptive information
-Child under the age of 17

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