NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Maria Busone had no way to know that a kiss goodbye would be the final one she shared with her 2-year-old son Jovani, who was abducted and apparently killed by his father John Ligurgo two weeks ago.
“I’m standing in front of my condo and it’s on fire and I don’t know where my son is,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Busone was screaming, begging for help, showing people pictures of a rifle that had gone missing.
“They confirmed it was not there,” she said. “I showed them pictures I had of the weapon in the box with the ammunition.”
Busone says the delay delivering the S.O.S. from Suffolk to state police watered down the life and death urgency of an innocent child being used as a pawn in a bitter custody dispute.
“As I am standing there, talking to them and going through all this, he has already crossed over the George Washington Bridge,” she said.
Because Ligurgo had no criminal history and wasn’t deemed violent, no Amber Alert was issued.
The bodies of Jovani and his father were found in Virginia, each dead of a gunshot wound in an apparent murder-suicide.
Suffolk County and New York State Police issued a joint statement June 7 amid criticism from Jovani’s family for declining to issue an Amber Alert.
The agencies say they worked “quickly and diligently” to locate Jovani and were “extremely saddened” by his death.
Suffolk police wanted an Amber Alert, but state police said information they provided didn’t meet the criteria for one.
Now Jovani’s mother is crying for change in the Amber Alert system. An online petition site has received more than 12,500 signatures of support to change the emergency system used for widespread notifications about child abductions.
Early Thursday in Albany, the state senate unanimously took the first step.
“This bill creates a commission that will, in three months, report back to the legislature and the governor to say these are problems with Amber Alert system, and this is how we fix it,” said State Senator Phil Boyle.
Since the inception of the Amber Alert in 1996, nearly 1,000 children have been safely recovered. In New York, legislators hope with change they can significantly expedite the system.