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Comanche County sheriff wants Amber Alerts to go out across America

BY RON JACKSON Published: January 31, 2010
GERONIMO — Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley had assumed Amber Alerts were broadcast nationwide. This week’s search for Aja Johnson has taught the veteran lawman otherwise.

"I must admit I thought those Amber Alerts went out across the U.S.,” Stradley said. "Evidently, I was mistaken. That needs to change. When this is all over I will see what I can do about getting that changed. Right now, we need to find that little girl.”

Stradley requested the Amber Alert on Sunday night after the body of Aja’s slain mother, Tonya Hobbs, was found in the small town of Geronimo south of Lawton. Hobbs, 37, was found beaten to death inside the recreational vehicle of her estranged husband, Lester Hobbs.

The slaying was reported by Lester Hobbs’ sister, Mildred Anderson, at 9:42 p.m., according to a Comanche County court affidavit. County deputies and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents were called, and it was quickly deduced that 7-year-old Aja, Lester Hobbs and Tonya Hobbs’ white 1992 Toyota Paseo were missing.

It was determined the report met Amber Alert guidelines, and an alert was issued at midnight.

Based on an interview with Anderson, investigators learned that Lester and Tonya Hobbs and Aja were last seen at 7 p.m. Saturday after having dinner at Anderson’s trailer home on the same town lot as the RV.

Investigators realized the alleged abductor may have been on the run for as long as 29 hours.

"This is an odd situation in that Lester had a 24- to 29-hour jump on us,” said Jessica Brown, OSBI spokeswoman. "He certainly had enough time to travel far away from Oklahoma, if in fact, that’s what he did. We just don’t know. That’s why a national Amber Alert system is paramount.”

Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado and Louisiana are generally cooperative about issuing Oklahoma’s Amber Alert requests, Brown said.

Anyone who spots Aja Johnson, Lester Hobbs or the suspect car should call 911 immediately. Anyone who has information can also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited

Children at (800) 843-5678. Aja is described as 4 feet tall and weighing about 59 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair with black on the tips. Lester Hobbs is about 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 190 pounds. He should be considered armed and dangerous, authorities said. A $20,000 reward was posted Thursday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hobbs.


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