Amber Barker was last seen 10 years ago riding her bike home. It is still unknown what happened to the 10-year-old girl on Dec. 18, 1997. Investigators suspect foul play, but no suspects have been named in her disappearance. "There's a high probability that the child was a victim of a homicide,” said Charles Pickett, senior case manager with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "But, the case is still open and the investigation is ongoing.” Amber was last seen pedaling home from a friend's home at 3041 NW 45 about 3 p.m. 10 years ago today. She was riding down Drexel Boulevard toward her home, 3119 NW 39 Terrace, when she is believed to have been abducted. Her bicycle was found the next day about 10:30 a.m. in Denniston Park at NW 25 and Drexel. The undamaged bike lay against a tree. A ring, a sweater, a sock and a tennis shoe belonging to Amber were found later along Drexel between NW 45 and NW 12.
Person of interest committed suicideDaniel John Smith, 24, the estranged common-law husband of Amber's older sister, was never formally a suspect in the girl's disappearance but was a person of interest and had been questioned by police. Witnesses told police Smith was at Amber's house just minutes before she called home to speak with her mother, Bonnie Barker. He may have overheard the conversation, in which Amber told her mother she was about to head home, according to court papers. Smith was believed to have left after the phone call ended. Smith was found hanging from a tree at Ray Trent Park in Del City four days after Amber disappeared. The state medical examiner ruled Smith's death a suicide. Detectives found a small amount of blood on Amber's shoe, as well as vomit and blue fibers on the sweater. The interior of Smith's pickup was blue. Bonnie Barker could not be reached Monday, but Pickett said she holds hope that at the very least, her daughter's remains may one day be found.
Mother still seeks answersWhether alive or dead, Bonnie just wants to know, Pickett said. "It's about the feeling of relief when you find out what happened,” he said. "The community needs to know.” At first Pickett spoke with Bonnie Barker regularly, but hasn't spoken to her in about six months. It's time to let her have some peace, he said. A DNA sample was recently taken from Bonnie Barker. The DNA from a set of human remains recently found in Oklahoma was tested against Amber's, but a match was not made, Pickett said. A DNA match recently helped the center identify a child that had been missing for 18 years, so Pickett remains optimistic. Reminding the public of Amber's disappearance also is crucial, he said. "You never know what relationships have changed in 10 years and what kind of little pieces of information might come to the forefront as a result of that,” he said. The center currently solves about 96 percent of its cases, so hope for Bonnie Barker is not lost, Pickett said.