Six months after a little girl was kidnapped and murdered, there’s a move to make changes to Pennsylvania’s Amber Alert law to try and prevent another child from suffering the same fate.
2-year old Nalani Johnson was abducted in a domestic dispute on August 31, 2019 in Penn Hills, a suburb east of Pittsburgh. Her grandmother, Taji Walsh believes Nalani could have been found alive if not for the two-and-a-half hour delay in issuing an Amber Alert about her abduction.
Not long after the tragedy, Walsh reached out to Sparkt’s Marty Griffin who connected her with Pennsylvania Representative Tony DeLuca and attorney Eric Chaffin of the law firm Chaffin Luhana, DeLuca and Chaffin worked together to draft legislation, just introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature, to address the problems with Pennsylvania’s Amber Alert law that contributed to the notification delay in Nalani’s case and possibly others.
Timeline of Events:
5pm: August 31, 2019: The suspect takes off with Nalani in her car, leaving the girl’s father on the side of the road in Penn Hills, PA.
5:02pm: Nalani’s father calls Penn Hills Police to report the abduction.
7:39pm: Pennsylvania State Police issue the Amber Alert which reaches every law enforcement agency, plus transportation departments that post notices on roadside alert signs, and cell phones throughout surrounding areas.
When the Amber Alert was finally issued, police discovered the suspect’s car and location within minutes. The suspect, who was dating Nalani’s father, wouldn’t talk . So it took another four days to find the little girl. Searchers found her dead in a field, still buckled into her car seat.
Nalani Johnson was abducted at 5pm on August 31, 2019. Police didn’t issue an Amber Alert until 7:39pm.
Chaffin and DeLuca have been working together to find out why it took so long for the Amber Alert to be issued, more than two and a half hours after the kidnapping was first reported to police. Together they discovered discrepancies in the Amber Alert law that is currently on the books and drafted legislation they’ve called the “Nalani Johnson Rule” to address the issues. DeLuca is the main sponsor of the bill in the Pennsylvania house:
Lawyer Eric Chaffin explained to Marty why he personally got involved in writing the bill:
The Nalani Johnson Rule already has 21 co-sponsors who are supporting the change to the law. The bill will be up for discussion when the legislature gets back to work in March.
Want to check out the full text of the “Nalani Johnson Rule”?
Follow the link below for the PDF: