(UPDATE, 10:57 a.m.) The Missing Endangered Person Advisory for the three children has been canceled. They have been located safely. No other details have been released; we will update you if we get more information.
(1st REPORT) The Montana Department of Justice has issued a Missing-Endangered Person Advisory for Sierra, Kira and Brea Skjold - ages 7, 6, and 3 years old - of Fort Belknap.
The children were reportedly taken by their non-custodial mother on January 27 and are possibly headed to Billings in a gold Nissan Maxima with Montana license plate CPH980.
The mother, Valene Wing-Skjold, is 5 feet, 3 inches tall; black hair, brown eyes; 150 pounds.
The advisory states that Wing-Skjold has violent tendencies and is known to abuse drugs, and there is concern for the safety of the children.
Anyone with information should call the Blaine County Sheriff's Office at 357-3260, or call 911.
Whenever a child is reported missing in Montana, law enforcement agencies work quickly to determine the circumstances, and whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert, or a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory (MEPA). The AMBER Alert program started in Texas in 1996 after 9-year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. In response to community concern, broadcasters in the area teamed up with law enforcement agencies to establish a program capable of quickly distributing information about child abductions to the general public.
In memory of Amber, the program was called the AMBER Plan – America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. In Montana, officials also have the option of issuing a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory. Here is the difference between the two:
AMBER ALERT: All of the following criteria must be met, according to the MT DOJ:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that a child has been abducted or has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
- The missing child is age 17 years or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
- The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.
The AMBER Alert system is not used to track runaways, missing children, or children involved in custody disputes. The program is restricted to child abduction cases that could be life threatening.
MISSING/ENDANGERED PERSON ADVISORY: A MEPA Advisory is initiated solely by Montana law enforcement agencies using the following criteria, according to the MT DOJ:
- Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert?
- Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
- Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
- Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person? The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.