An Ivins, Washington County, couple were honored as "heroes" by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Friday.

The two were presented with the Rachael Runyan Award for hearing the state's latest Amber Alert, spotting the vehicle of the alleged abductor and calling police.

The award was presented to the couple on the 10th anniversary of the alert system.

Authorities say Tyler Jay Morton, 12, and Steven Thomas Morton, 7, were taken Dec. 31 by their mother from their Plymouth, Box Elder County, home. The boy's grandmother, Judy Cline, has had custody of the boys since 2001.

Tessa Morton, suffers from psychotic schizophrenia, has possible violent tendencies and a history of suicide attempts, according to law enforcement. She was charged in 1st District Court with two counts of kidnapping and one count of theft, all second-degree felonies.

After allegedly taking the boys, Morton ended up in Washington County where she was spotted by Mike Butcher and his wife, Chasity Angell.

"At first I doubted it (was them)," Butcher said. But the more he looked, "everything matched the descriptions."

Angell had a system of memorizing letters and numbers with word associations and dates. She remembered the license plate given on the news the night before, 719VMN, as "July 19, Very Macho Name."

The license plate matched. Angell and Butcher got in their car and followed Morton, who appeared to be lost, while calling 911. Just minutes later, Morton was arrested, and the boys were found safe.

"We just made a phone call. The real heroes are the ones who answer the call," Butcher said.

Tyler and Steven, despite being intimidated by the throng of reporters and cameras at Friday's press conference, mustered the courage to give Angell and Butcher hugs and say thank you.

Nationally, the Amber Alert has helped recover 241 children in the United States since its inception.

Utah's child abduction alert was launched in 2002. It was originally called the "Rachael Alert" in honor of 3-year-old Rachael Runyan of Sunset who was kidnapped and murdered in 1982. It was later changed to the Amber Alert to conform with the rest of the nation.

Elaine Runyan-Simmons presented the award named after her daughter to Butcher and Angell Friday.

"The Amber Alert continues to prove itself over and over again," she said.

Utah has issued 14 alerts since 2002. Twelve of those cases resulted in successful endings with the safe recovery of 13 children. The exception was the case of 19-month-old Acacia Bishop in 2003. Although the alert was successful in helping locate the girl's grandmother — who police believe took the 19-month-old girl — the child was never found and is presumed to have drowned in the Snake River.

In another Amber Alert issued by Salt Lake City police in July of 2005, a victim was never positively identified, and the alert was cancelled a few days later when investigators were unable to determine if anyone had actually been kidnapped.

The very first alert, still known then as the Rachael Alert, was issued June 5, 2002, for Elizabeth Smart.

Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, attended Friday's award presentation. He called Utah the "premier spot" in the nation for the success of the Amber Alert. That, coupled with the new Missing Person Advisory, will help Utah remain ahead of the curve for finding missing children, he said.


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