Illinois' 1st Amber Alert subject shares how CPD officer saved her in Home Depot parking lot

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Illinois' 1st Amber Alert subject shares her story 20 years later
Marilyn Ali, the subject of Illinois' first Amber Alert, was only 3 when she was taken by a woman who asked to use the phone.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Amber Alert will mark 20 years in Illinois in January. The woman who was the first person in Illinois to be the subject of an Amber Alert shared her story, along with the officer who saved her.

Spread out over Marilyn Ali's coffee table are newspaper clippings and community alerts from when she was abducted 18 years ago. Only 3 years old at the time, Marilyn was taken from her grandmother's back yard by a woman who asked to use the phone.

"She let her use the phone and she came back out and asked me to go to the park," she said. "Logically, you're thinking, maybe my grandmother sent her to take me to the park."

SEE ALSO | Indiana Amber Alert canceled after baby abducted in Merrillville dropped off at police station

In October 2003, Marilyn Ali became Chicago's very first Amber Alert. With a citywide search, Marilyn's parents were losing hope after their daughter was still missing for three days.

"The three longest days of my life," said her father, Donell Digby. "Normally after three days, someone is dead and gone."

While she says she was too young to be scared, Marilyn remembers living in South Side motels and eating gas station food with her abductors before going to a Home Depot on 87th Street.

The 87th shopping center parking lot is where Chicago Police Officer Michele Millison checked out an anonymous tip about a possible sighting inside a station wagon.

"I walked backwards, I looked in, and all I saw a haircut of beads and she was under the dashboard," Millison recalled.

Millison quickly popped the lock and pulled Marilyn out.

"I'm like, 'what is your name?', she says 'Marilyn,' and I say 'Oh my God, are you ok?' and she's like, 'Are you ok?'"

Marilyn and her parents credit Millison and the Amber Alert for saving her life. They urge others to pay attention when one pops up on their phones.

"All I can say is take it seriously," Marilyn said.

"I first read it, look at license plate, and ask God to do for them what he did for me," her father said.