By DEREK PRICE
GREENVILLE — The following are notes from Wednesday's press conference about the murder of Greenville teenager Alicia Moore:
Dan Busken, police chief:
"There was trauma to her body discovered during the autopsy. The cause of death is still pending until the autopsy results are complete. It is a homicide investigation.
"The Van Zandt County sheriff, Texas Rangers and Greenville Police Department will be cooperating in the investigation.
Why Amber Alert not issued: "There are specific criteria that must be met to activate an Amber Alert. At no time were those criteria met. We have already received numerous tips from the community and appreciate the support we have received so far. We encourage anyone to contact the Greenville Police Department at 903-457-2900 or contact CrimeStoppers at 903-457-2929."
"We have to gather information before we can release information. All I can tell you at this point is we have to verify things and act on the information that we receive. Early on we had a very limited amount of information that we had to deal with. As we went throughout this weekend we compiled more information. As of Monday morning we were at a point where we were able to release photographs. We were able to obtain the most recent photograph, her school photograph, that I think was taken just two or three weeks ago."
"The Amber Alert was something we contemplated throughout the weekend. We have not developed enough information, even up to this point, that would have warranted an Amber Alert.
"There are specific criteria that have to be met: Four questions that you have to answer yes to in order to even send your info to Austin so they can contemplate an Amber Alert.
"Law enforcement has to be able to say or must have determined that there was an actual abduction that took place. At the time when we were contemplating it this weekend, Monday, even up until now we can not say for certain that Alicia was abducted.
"We've got a lot of leads to track down. No determination has been made as of yet as to where specifically any of the crimes associated with this may have been committed.
On online chats: "Those are things we're following up on. A lot of teenagers are very active with social media and things that are going on online. Were taking a look at all of that through the course of our investigation."
"I don't know the time of death. We have not been provided that yet from the medical examiner's office."
Is it true she was initially classified as a runaway? "I can't specifically say whether she was classified as a runaway or a missing person. A lot of times those two terms are synonymous in our classifications. I know some of the initial information we received in the police report indicated this may have been something that happened before. We're still investigating that and trying to come up with answers."
"Some of the information reported by the media is accurate. Some is not completely accurate. There is a box that's associated with this investigation. I'm not at liberty to give a lot of details about that, but that is certainly something that we are looking at and will be a key point of our investigation.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us with this investigation. I mentioned early on and I want to repeat it: We have received many, many tips from the community. We're hoping those tips continue to come in. We are only as good as our most recent information, and it's even more evident in a case like this. We must have cooperation from the community in order for us to do our jobs. Hopefully we will have more information to release fairly soon.
Don Jefferies, GISD superintendent:
"We want to send our condolences to Alicia's family, friends and church members. It's always a tragic loss to lose a child. This community, this family and friends at the high school have lost a precious child. As an educator, this is the last type of event you'd want to deal with.
"I was alerted Saturday morning that a Greenville High School student was reported missing by her family Friday evening. We've been in constant communication with the Greenville Police Department regarding this investigation.
"We send our heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends.
"I asked the principal at the time to check the child's schedule, call teachers to see about anything unusual and contact the school resource officers (SROs) over the weekend. Alicia had an iPad, and we could trace that as long as it was on, but the tracking system was apparently disabled. We know from our bus video that she did get on the bus at the high school and got off the bus at the corner of Walnut and Bourland about a half block from her home.
"We have received no notice from anyone about predators near our schools. That being said, it is paramount for us as parents and guardians to stay alert. Any strange or suspicious person they see around our buses or schools is urged to notify us. I would encourage everyone to remind their children to be vigilant as they go to and from school
"Our bus drivers are highly trained to scan their surroundings. They're taught and trained to look for suspicious people or circumstances, and the bus driver didn't notice anything.
"There is a criminal investigation going on. We will continue to cooperate with police and work with parents and students. We have grief counselors in our school.
"We have had offers from ministers to come to our schools, and they're welcome to do that.
Jessica Byrd, Alicia's aunt:
"It's a slow process, a headache, and the biggest nightmare is kind of closing. It's going to be a big headache for the family and community. It's a wakeup call to show our community how our police department that is supposed to serve and protect us treats us.
"I don't care how old or young someone is. I think they need to change that Amber Alert. If somebody is missing that should have been home, the police need to step up and reach out. Most of the time they're not going to stay in the town they were missing from. If they would have just given us their support to reach out to the counties that are not very far from here, I feel like my niece would be here today.
"I'm very close to her. I believe deep down in my heart she did not run away. She would have taken her jewelry and favorite clothes, and she would have nagged me for my flat irons and crinkle curls.
"I feel like I've been the investigator trying to get the word out. The department was lacking on that job.
"Something happened between the bus and the house.
"We have no idea who did this."
What would you say to someone watching this? "Please just call in, no matter how big or small it is, turn the information in"
"I'm hoping because it had to end like this, people will start speaking up. Please speak up. It's sad it had to end this way. Do your part. Even if you're the person who did it, turn yourself in or leave clues so somebody can reach out to you.
"Normally she would stay after school for the ACE program. If she did, she'd be home by 7 or 7:30. After 7:30, when the ACE bus didn't come, we started to worry and her mom started driving all over town to look for her.
"Last time to see her was Thursday night. I had to tell her she had a low grade, and I told her to pick that up, education is important. We were just watching TV like we always do as a family.
"She liked music. She wasn't a typical teenager who likes to go out and be around a lot of people. She likes to come home straight from school and be with herself."
Lashonda SImpson, friend of family for 30 years:
"Me and Retha, the mother of Alicia, grew up together. We're like sisters. Alicia babysat my kids this past summer. My issue with the whole investigation is, as a social worker I worked at a children's runaway shelter for five years. When speaking with the chief and police on Monday, I explained to them that the criteria of a runaway, Alicia did not meet that criteria. I've seen many runaways and heard many stories, and it irritated me that was the first thing being thrown out. I think that is wrong and I feel like that was the reason the investigation was handled like that, because of her age.
"At some point in time, whether they ran away or were abducted, you do your job to bring that child home.
"She's not even your average 16-year-old. The first thing she would want to do is say, 'Hey, do you want to watch Nickelodeon or play video games?'
"Why would you come that close to home if someone was meeting you to pick you up?"
Cedric Fisher, very close friend to the family:
"I feel personally like they dropped the ball here. I think she met the criteria but the family was not taken seriously. That prolonging could have resulted in the death of a child.
"If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't have known it happened. Nobody in the community really had an outreach or nothing to tell you it happened. Most of it started on Facebook."
"What you have to understand, where her body was found at, very few African Americans stay in that part of the county. It's bad.
"We have to protect our own communities. We're all our own eyes in our community and have to take care of our own children."
How confident are you that the GPD has done all they can in this case? "They might be doing as much as they can right now because it came to the death. Before that it was a slow process, but now because it's a murder they're doing the best they can do."