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September 18, 2011

Oklahoma: Silver Haired Legislature Pioneered Silver Alert in the Sooner State

by silveralertbill

Silver Alert was first proposed in Oklahoma in 2005, but did not become a permanent law until 2009. An article in the Daily Oklahoman about the 30th anniversary of the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature tells the tragic story of Betty Ledgerwood and the circumstances that led to the creation of Silver Alert.

Surely someone would spot 77-year-old Betty Ledgerwood driving across northeast Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri in her resplendent Lincoln Town Car as she cruised aimlessly from state to state. 

Her brain clouded by dementia but with a heart still yearning for independence, the Edmond woman had a full tank of gas, traveled an estimated 250 miles, and apparently slept in her car. No one noticed her passage.

Five days after her disappearance, the former accountant was found dead of hypothermia in the small southwest Missouri town of Norwood.

Near a large truck stop and liquor store, she was lying next to her car; keys in the ignition, five costly diamond rings — one with 2.42 carats of diamonds — on her fingers. She had been dead for 12 hours.

Ledgerwood’s death was in 2007, two years before enactment of Oklahoma’s well-known Silver Alert law.

The measure wasn’t originally proposed and pushed into law by elected officials in Oklahoma City, but by volunteers of the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature, now in its 30th year.

Had there been a Silver Alert in 2007, relatives said they believe Betty Ledgerwood would have been safely found.

“My mother’s case put a face on a problem and the need for the Silver Alert,” said Joe Ledgerwood, a Crossings Community Church accountant.


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