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Amber Alert canceled, missing girl found

Rihannon McGuire, 12 and Michelle Ferguson

An Amber Alert issued in Montana is canceled after a missing girl was found safe.

State officials issued the alert Thursday afternoon.

They said Rhiannon McGuire, 12, was taken by her noncustodial mother. Officials report a suspect is in custody.

Officials with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office said the child’s location was found after the mother’s cellphone was pinged.

The child and her mother were located in Missoula and picked up by Missoula police, law enforcement officials said.

“We do have the ability to have the cellphone companies do what’s called ‘ping’ a phone, or locate it,” Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry explained. “That’s just used in emergencies where there’s a sense of urgency and a need to find out where someone is in the case of missing persons, primarily.”

A June 2018 Supreme Court ruling requires all law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for cellphone location data. But in situations like a missing person, that’s not necessary.

Curry said pinging a cellphone is a useful tool, but it’s not foolproof. Locating the phone depends on where it is and if it’s on, among other factors.

“In cases such as this, it is very useful and very helpful to us,” Curry said.

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