Florida launches 'Purple Alert': What is it?

Florida has Amber Alerts, Blue Alerts, and Silver Alerts. Starting this month, Purple Alerts too.

These alerts go out when an adult suffering from mental, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities is missing, but does not meet criteria for a Silver Alert. One Central Florida family faced tragedy head on and fought for years to make this day a reality. 

"He was always holding doors for other people, pushing their wheelchairs," said the mother of Josh Marshall. "He was always helping to sweep the floor, helping to clean up. He was a very kind, compassionate young man."

The Central Florida man had a cognitive disability, was nonverbal, and walked with a lopsided gait. He'd just moved to Port St. Lucie with his father in August 2018 when he got out of the house in the middle of the night.

MORE NEWS: 'She was fighting the shark': Mom of Florida teen attacked by shark describes terrifying ordeal

"He wandered around the streets, ended up at a 7-Eleven… The store clerk seen him. Other people saw him. Nobody helped," Beverley said. "He was distraught. He was crying. He didn't have any shoes on his feet. And he was just lost."

The 30-year-old's body was later found in a pond outside a fire station. His mother believes had there been some sort of alert, Josh might've been recognized.

Courtesy of Josh Marshall's family

"So many times people could have interrupted and stepped up and said, 'hey, you know, this is the person that they're talking about on this alert.' But there was no alert.

She fought to create Florida Purple Alerts, teaming up with Senator Lori Berman and Representative Joe Casello.

It took three years, but finally, on Friday, it launched.

A Purple Alert is for missing adults with mental, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities, not related to substance abuse Or Alzheimer’s or dementia-related disorders, which are in the Silver Alert category. Notifications go to media, road signs, lottery terminals, and those who've signed up.

Friday brought the very first purple alert of William Miller.

"That's kind of like bringing it home a little more, too, because I know how that feels when your loved one goes missing."

Beverly hopes her son's story helps this one and others have a positive end.

"It's a great legacy for him, because it does represent the kind of person that he was. You know, he was always helping. So if we could help in a way, you know, we're there." 

With Purple Alerts, local law enforcement must conclude the subject is in danger of bodily harm and can only be safely returned through their intervention. At last check, the Purple Alert for 52-year-old William Miller of Lake Placid is still active.

To get future alerts, you'll need to sign up on Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website.