Refurbished Mural Pays Tribute to Arlington's Amber Hagerman - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Refurbished Mural Pays Tribute to Arlington's Amber Hagerman

Hagerman was abducted in 1996

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    Refurbished Mural Pays Tribute to Arlington's Amber Hagerman

    The Arlington girl whose abduction and murder led to the worldwide Amber Alert notification system to find missing children was remembered on Sunday. Amber Hagerman's image is now part of a special mural located behind the La Michoacana supermarket along East Abram Street in Arlington. (Published Sunday, July 7, 2019)

    The Arlington girl whose abduction and murder led to the worldwide Amber Alert notification system to find missing children was remembered on Sunday.

    Amber Hagerman's image is now part of a special mural located behind the La Michoacana supermarket along East Abram Street in Arlington.

    The area is where the 9-year-old was kidnapped more than 20 years ago.

    Hagerman's mother, Donna Williams, was on hand for Sunday's mural re-dedication.

    "It's bittersweet because it was the last place my daughter was alive and it's sweet because all the people came out and support her and support us and what we do," she said.

    NBC 5 also spoke with the artist behind the touching tribute.

    "We knew she liked butterflies, bears," said the artist known as Patch. "We knew she liked the flowers."

    The airbrush artist knew something was missing from his original work in 2013.

    "I've always felt connected to this wall from doing the first mural. So I said, 'You know what Lord, you give me the ability I'll keep with it, I'll keep with it,'" he said.

    Patch found himself back in North Texas, and along with his partner, opted to re-paint the entire mural.

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    "I wanted her picture on that wall," he said.

    It took all day to add airbrushed images of Hagerman.

    "God took her but used her to help other people, other kids," Patch said.

    Resident Melissa Lemons walked up to the colorful wall behind what used to be a Winn-Dixie grocery store.

    She was 12 years old when Amber vanished in 1996.

    "It was very traumatic," she remembered. "I will never forget it. Makes you want to protect your kids even more."

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    Patch said every detail of her sweet face was a tragic reminder.

    "When I was painting it I was just thinking the whole time, 'Amber, I hope you like it.' Excuse me," he said becoming emotional. "Just as a dad it hurts when you see someone's kid get hurt."

    There's one special butterfly among the monarchs scattered across the artwork.

    "We had all these monarch butterflies everywhere and this yellow one just comes out of nowhere and was just flying around with them so we were like. 'Wow!' We really felt a connection thinking, 'Is that Amber connecting with us?'" he said.

    Patch said he hoped visitors would walk away remembering Hagerman and how she has helped other children.

    The words "Arlington's Lil' Angel" appear on the mural.

    Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

    "We will always let her live on. She will always be with us and be a part of us," Lemons said.

    Thousands of tips have poured in over the years, but the person behind Hagerman's abduction and murder still has not been caught.

    As of spring 2019, 957 children have been successfully recovered across the country through Amber Alerts.

    The system named in Hagerman's honor officially stands for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response."

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