SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A petition on Change.org addressed to the Tennessee State Senate is calling on state legislators to make waiting too long to report a missing child illegal.
The petition for “Evelyn’s Law” has reached more than 15,000 online signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
The petition comes in response to Evelyn Mae Boswell being reported missing on February 18, 2020, despite being last seen in December.
The petition claims the time between the disappearance and the time of reporting has caused major issues.
Petitioners are proposing “Evelyn’s Law,” which would make it illegal to wait longer than 72 hours to report a child as missing, however another petition relating to the Evelyn Boswell case is proposing the state of Tennessee adopt a similar, already existing law.
Currently, the state of Tennessee does not have a law that regulates the amount of time one has to report a child missing.
This (https://www.change.org/p/bill-lee-extend-caylee-s-law-to-tennessee) petition, which is gaining traction and has almost as many signatures as the petition calling for “Evelyn’s law” is asking Tennessee lawmakers to adopt “Caylee’s Law”.
“Caylee’s Law” has been adopted in 10 states across the United States and includes Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Kansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The bill originated in Florida in honor of Caylee Anthony. Caylee was not reported missing by her mother, Casey Anthony, for over a month. While the states share this common bill, they all vary in the severity of the penalties.
In the Evelyn Boswell case, investigators told News Channel 11 that some family members claimed not seeing Evelyn as far back as early December.
The amount of time it took to report the child missing has been a big question on the minds of those following the case.
East Tennessee lawmakers who have also been following the case are now weighing in on these online petitions. “You know if your child is missing for a couple of minutes or a few hours and you don’t hear from them, every nerve in your body starts firing off and it’s all-consuming. Much less, days, weeks, or god forbid months,” said Senator Jon Lundberg.
Lundberg said most parents would report a child missing immediately and that it’s common sense. However, he said the petition proposing criminal penalties if a child is not reported missing within 24 to 72 hours could cause some issues.
He said for parents who are unaware their child is missing, they don’t deserve criminal penalties. This would include situations such as a child away at summer camp and the parent not being informed immediately, or in a custody agreement where a parent does not have daily access to their child.
Senator Rusty Crowe also agrees that something like this should be common sense to a parent. “I find it shocking that we as a community would even have to have this discussion. If it takes a week to report your child missing I would seriously question whether you should even have custody in the first place, ” said Crowe.
You can view the petition by clicking here.
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