BUTTE, Mont. - Officials say there is a flaw in the system after a mother who tested positive for meth took her hours-old baby and ran from an area hospital.
There's a warrant out for 29-year-old Michelle Yallup. Police accused her of being high on meth when she delivered a baby in the Anaconda hospital last Tuesday.
She walked out hours later, with her newborn, and officials say that baby boy could be in danger.
We wanted to know why didn't the state pull out all the stops to find her. We're told Yallup has custody of the baby, so they couldn't issue a state-wide Amber Alert. Instead, they put out a limited advisory to neighboring counties but that ran out 48 hours after Yallup took off.
She and the newborn are still missing.
We're not the only ones asking why no Amber Alert and wondering how officials can find her.
"It's critical that we keep our eyes open for these children," said Fran Albrecht of Watson Children's Shelter. "They need us to be the eye and the ears and really advocate for those children and making sure their safety is paramount."
Albrecht oversees Watson Children's Shelter in Missoula, a safe haven for infants and children caught in crisis.
She laid it out for us -- when a new mom tests positive for drugs, Child Protective Services meet with her in the hospital. Yallup left before that could happen.
"This child is clearly going to have medical needs immediately that need to be addressed," said Albrecht.
Soon after Yallup fled, Anaconda police put out a Missing and Endangered Persons Advisory because the situation did not meet the requirements for an Amber Alert. The child did not have a legal name and technically was still in custody of the mother.
"Those are two things that don't allow an Amber Alert to be issued; I think as time passes that could change," said Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester. He said this case might be used to change the requirements.
"The main thing is the welfare of the child and the mother," said Lester. "That's the biggest concern and once we're able to confirm that, then we can look in to see if there are loopholes we can close in situations like these."
The advisory lasted 48 hours. We told you last Friday when it came down off the state website.
Now Lester is counting on a nationwide arrest warrant to track her down. He thinks that might be as effective as an Amber Alert.
"Because any officer who has encountered the mother would be able to access that information about this case," said Lester.
Right now, all people like Albrecht can do is hope the infant is found, while others wonder how he ever went missing in the first place.
"If the mother is out there," said Albrecht. "That she reach out on behalf of her own child and get the child the medical care that is necessary."
We found out more about how authorities are trying to track Yallup. The county attorney will likely file something called an investigative subpoena. He needs that to access confidential records, like her hospital and bank records.
The attorney will include all the facts supporting the allegation Yallup broke the law and will try to prove he needs the documents to prove his case. A judge has to sign off on it, before any institutions hand over the records.
We found out that kind of subpoena is difficult to get in Montana. State law says no investigative subpoena, and no private information about a patient.