Texas police are downplaying a report Thursday by a Seattle television station concerning a possible connection between Terapon Dang Adhahn and 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, whose 1996 abduction and death fueled creation of the Amber Alert system.
In addition, court records indicate it would be unlikely for Adhahn to have been in Texas when Amber disappeared.
Asked about a midday report by KING 5 News, Arlington, Texas, police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour said, “It would not be accurate to characterize this man from Washington as a suspect.
“Obviously this is being brought to our attention, but we have no information that he had family in Texas or family here at the time Amber was killed.”
Searches of public records show that Adhahn’s mother lives in Fort Worth, in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area. The records do not make it clear when she moved there.
Additional records show that one of Adhahn’s relatives – a brother – lives in the same area. Early research suggests the brother has lived in the area since 1994.
A woman who answered the phone Thursday at the address listed for his mother identified herself as Adhahn’s aunt and said, “I haven’t seen him since he was young or since he became an adult.”
Adhahn, 42, has been charged with 10 counts of rape in Pierce County Superior Court, and remains a suspect in the abduction and death of 12-year-old Zina Linnik, whose body police discovered with Adhahn’s assistance.
Prosecutors have said they expect to charge Adhahn with Zina’s death, but have not set a date.
The current charges name two alleged victims – a then-11-year-old Tacoma girl who was raped in 2000 and another young woman who lived with Adhahn between the ages of 12 and 16. She told police that Adhahn raped her at least 150 times in that span.
Amber Hagerman, 9, was last seen riding her bicycle on Jan. 13, 1996, in Arlington. A witness saw a man in a dark pickup truck force the child into the vehicle and drive away. Amber’s body was discovered four days later. Her slaying remains unsolved 10 years later.
Pierce County Superior Court records show that Adhahn, convicted of incest in 1990, attended group therapy sessions for offenders on Jan. 9, 1996, and Jan. 16, 1996. The therapist kept a record of those who attended the sessions.
Gilfour would not say whether investigators in Texas collected DNA information from Amber, or whether she was sexually assaulted. Investigators have withheld that information in the hopes of using it against the child’s killer.
Police in Tacoma have obtained a DNA sample from Adhahn, and used it as the basis for some of the charges against him.
Gilfour said Tacoma police provided information about Adhahn’s arrest and his potential links to other cases. She added that tips on the Amber Hagerman case come in to Arlington police regularly. The information regarding Adhahn is no different, she said.
“We’re going to do what we always do, and what any responsible caring law enforcement should do,” she said. “We’re going to thoroughly investigate any possibility.
“It would be irresponsible for us, every time someone came to our attention, to say that we’re looking into someone. It’s not fair to our community to do that, and so we don’t.”
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.