Sunday, February 23, 2014

Timeline of Hailey Owens Tragedy: Documents, Police Statements Tell the Story

After Hailey Owens was stolen from her neighborhood ... after the Amber alert ... after the 11 p.m. newscasts ...
... Springfield held its breath.
On social media, we shared news stories, photos of Hailey, pictures of what police called the abductor’s vehicle — our concern for the missing child.
Together, we hoped for the best.
But within a few hours of trying to escape her captor, Hailey — the little fourth grader with the giant smile — was dead.
Authorities arrested and charged a man who continues to claim his innocence.
Craig Michael Wood, a $17,000-a-year teaching assistant with a minor criminal record and what police have called child pornography in his house, has been accused of first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping.
Although much of what happened since Hailey’s abduction on Tuesday remains unclear, court records and police statements give a timeline of Hailey’s final moments.

FEB. 18

4:48 p.m. Springfield police respond to the 3200 block of West Lombard Street in reference to a reported child abduction. Witnesses tell police they saw a young girl snatched from the street by a man in a truck. Witnesses tried to give chase, but the truck sped away too fast. Witnesses called 911 and tried to find the girl’s family.
5 p.m. Officers obtain preliminary information from witnesses regarding vehicle description, license plate number and the suspect’s appearance. Family identifies Hailey Owens as the missing girl.
6 p.m. The Springfield Police Department issues a news release and posts to social media information about the abduction, including the victim’s description and vehicle details. Following the protocol for issuing an Amber Alert, information is provided to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
7:07 p.m. A statewide Amber Alert is issued and information is distributed to all area law enforcement agencies and media outlets. The suspect’s description as well as the suspect’s vehicle make, model and license plate number are released to the public.
Based on the witness information about the license plate number, officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol contact the registered owner of the vehicle, Craig Michael Wood’s parents in Ash Grove. Wood’s father said the vehicle was Wood’s. Springfield officers go to Wood’s home at 1538 E. Stanford St., Springfield.
About 8:30 p.m. Wood arrives at his home in a truck matching the description and license plate number of the witnesses’ account at the abduction scene. Police doing surveillance there ask him to go to police headquarters for an interview. He is not told — and does not ask — why. At headquarters, Wood denies any involvement in the abduction. Officers note what appeared to be blood on Wood’s shirt. He does not leave police custody.
Also about 8:30 p.m. Officers do a safety sweep of Wood’s home. They note a strong smell of bleach throughout the basement, but find “no one in need of assistance,” according to Police Chief Paul Williams.
11:56 p.m. Springfield police announce a suspect is arrested and being held, but Hailey is still missing.

FEB. 19

1:28 a.m. A Greene County judge approves a search warrant for Wood’s home.
2:15 a.m. Two Springfield officers enter the home under the authority of the search warrant. They note several bleach containers throughout the home. They later write that they found a body consistent with Hailey’s size inside two garbage bags within a plastic storage tote in the basement. Authorities also find a .22 caliber bullet casing and a ball cap matching witness accounts of the suspect’s attire.
The county’s deputy medical examiner eventually responds to the scene and identifies a gunshot wound at the base of the child’s skull and ligature marks on her wrists.
3 a.m. Police inform the family of Hailey Owens that a body had been found at the suspect’s residence but cannot yet confirm who it is.
At about 3 a.m. Police go to the Dutch Maid Laundry near Elm Street and National Avenue. Authorities have acknowledged processing the scene in connection with Hailey’s case but have given no details as to why or what may have been found there.
6:30 a.m. Police publicly name Craig Michael Wood as the suspect. Records show he is held in the Greene County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder but not formally charged. Prosecutors must review police allegations against him.
8 a.m. Amber Alert canceled
11 a.m. At a news conference, Williams confirmed a body was found at the Stanford Street home and said police believe it was Owens, though an autopsy would be needed to confirm her identity and cause of death.
3:45 p.m. Authorities ask for a second search warrant for Wood’s home, looking for “papers, letters, journals, diaries, etc. documenting criminal plans, activities and/or desires.”
6 p.m. Wood is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping. At a news conference, Prosecutor Dan Patterson publicly thanks the community and law enforcement for their efforts.

FEB. 20

All day The community continues to rally to support Hailey’s family, leaving notes and gifts at the site where she was abducted. Organizers also work to set up funds for the family and a memorial event for the girl.
About 5:30 p.m. Wood’s parents issue a statement through an attorney, joining the Springfield community in their concern for the Owens family.

FEB. 21

8:30 a.m. Wood is arraigned on the three charges against him in Judge Dan Imhoff’s courtroom. First Assistant Prosecutor Todd Myers objects to Wood’s attorney being a public defender, announcing that authorities have found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood’s name, proving he has the financial means to hire his own attorney. Imhoff rules that public defender Chris Hatley will remain Wood’s attorney until the matter can be discussed at a later date.
11 a.m. Two search warrants detailing the evidence found in Wood’s home are released to the public. They reveal that police say child pornography, multiple guns and ammunition and notebooks filled with “stories” were found in the home.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Killer of 9-Year-Old Jimmy Ryce Executed in Florida


Juan Carlos Chavez, who raped and murdered 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce in an infamous 1995 crime in the Redland, said nothing as he went to his death on a chilly, damp Wednesday night in North Florida.
Chavez’s last statement came in a rambling handwritten note penned hours before his execution. In it, he made no apologies to the family he tore apart. Nor did he claim any innocence.
Instead, the brutal child-killer proclaimed his religious faith and wished Christ’s love on those who “in their pain desire my death.”
“No word or man will rob me of my peace today,” Chavez wrote.
For Don Ryce, who has spent the past 18 years crusading for tougher laws against sex predators, the execution of his son’s killer delivered a very different message. After stoically watching Chavez die from a lethal injection, Ryce warned pedophiles to think twice about killing their victims.
“People will not forget, they will not forgive,” Ryce said. “We will hunt you down and we will put you to death.”
Ryce’s older son, Ted Ryce, said he was reluctant to attend but came as a “symbol of strength.” Jimmy’s mother and sister both died in the past few years.
“To show you that in spite of all the terrible tragedies we’ve been through, my father and I still stand strong — and strength is something we are sorely lacking in our country today,” Ted Ryce said.
Jimmy disappeared from a school bus stop Sept. 11, 1995, sparking a massive three-month manhunt across South Florida. Chavez, after a marathon police interrogation, confessed to raping him and shooting the boy in the back as he tried to escape. The ghastly details of the crime — Jimmy’s dismembered remains were found in planters sealed with concrete — shook the community’s sense of security and spurred legislation allowing the state to indefinitely detain sexual predators.
The execution came after a tense delay of two hours as the U.S. Supreme Court considered, but ultimately denied, a last-minute request for a stay.
In the death chamber at 8:02 p.m., a curtain rose that allowed witnesses seated in a brightly lit white room to look through a two-way window at Chavez lying on a gurney. A white sheet covered his body, except for his face. Leather straps cinched Chavez’s wrists and ankles, and IVs for the lethal injection were inserted into his arms.
A prison official supervising the execution asked Chavez if he wanted to make a last statement. Chavez declined and the first of three drugs was administered.
Within a few minutes, a sedative took effect. Chavez yawned and closed his eyes. At one point, the corrections official said his name, “Mr. Chavez,” three times to make sure he was asleep. The official then leaned over Chavez and shut his eyelids.
As the lethal components in the injection kicked in, Chavez moved his feet slightly. His skin, already pale from years in prison, turned more ashen. His body lay still for several minutes. A doctor examined Chavez’s eyes, nose and mouth. A stethoscope detected no heartbeat. At 8:17 p.m., the corrections official declared Chavez’s death.
Throughout the process, none of the 19 witnesses showed any emotion. As he walked from the room with the aid of a cane, however, there was clear pain in Don Ryce’s eyes.
Other witnesses included Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Penny Brill, and former prosecutor Michael Band, both of whom took Chavez to trial. Former Miami-Dade homicide sergeant Felix Jimenez was also on hand, as was one juror who helped convict Chavez in the 1998 trial
Pat Diaz, the retired Miami-Dade police detective who led the investigation into Jimmy’s murder but did not attend the execution, still felt a sense of closure.
“Justice has been served for an evil man,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Chavez’s only visitor was a “spiritual adviser.” His demeanor during the day was calm, a Florida corrections spokeswoman told reporters. His last meal included a ribeye steak, French fries, a fruit cup and strawberry ice cream, washed down with mango juice.
The notoriety of the case drew an unusually large media contingent. About two dozen news reporters, photographers and TV satellite trucks gathered under drizzling gray skies in a sprawling field across from the Florida State Prison.
Chavez, who spent nearly 16 years on Death Row, was the 12th inmate put to death in Florida since the start of 2012.
The day started off with the Florida Supreme Court rejecting a last-minute bid to delay the scheduled execution.
Chavez’s lawyer, Robert Norgard, tried to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider Chavez’s argument that the sedative used as part of the cocktail of lethal drugs was ineffective as a pain-relieving anesthetic and therefore violated his constitutional protection against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
His lawyer filed an affidavit by a University of Miami anesthesiologist, David Lubarsky, to bolster his client’s latest claim Tuesday. Norgard based that claim on the state high court’s decision to consider the same expert’s evidence in another Death Row inmate’s petition.
But the Florida Supreme Court concluded that Chavez should have presented this evidence when he had the opportunity before the justices rejected his previous bid for a stay Jan. 31. And late Wednesday, the nation’s high court rejected the same argument.

Read more here:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Justice for Jimmy? Wednesday Will Tell...

I met and became friends with Don and Claudine Ryce when I joined an organization called Team HOPE just outside Washington DC in 1999, six months after my own daughter, Andi, had been kidnapped and murdered. I will spare writing the details of the brutal murder of little Jimmy Ryce, because I just can't, you can Google it or read from the story below for more details. I chose to include this story from the Miami Herald from a year ago because the Ryce family has been through so, so much and the article is very well written. Jimmy's mother, Claudine died of a sudden heart attack in 2009 (Don says from a broken heart and I concur) and Jimmy's sister, Martha, died at a young age as well (you can read about it below). I have always felt they both died from a broken heart from the stress of losing Jimmy. Don said it best when he recently stated, "So many of my family members are dead, directly or indirectly because of Chavez, and he's still living. That does not feel right."
I write about this story today because the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has signed the death warrant for Juan Carlos Chavez to be carried out Wednesday, February 12th 2014. This case has been in the fore-front of my mind because I have so often asked myself the question why? I want to know why these killers kill people, particularly children, and why does the system continue to fail at carrying out justice? Chavez has exhausted his appeals but is sending a "hail Mary" appeal to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Will they hear it, will they deem that the execution is cruel and unusual? I don't know, but I know I will be watching and praying for the Ryce family because I know that one day I will be walking in those same shoes. And frankly, it is all very unsettling to me. *Rebecca*


Juan Carlos Chavez has been on Death Row for 13 years and 39 days, an address where the average stay lasts 13 years and 80 days.
The average age of an executed prisoner in Florida is 44 years and 146 days. Chavez will turn 45 in March as his lawyers exhaust what will surely be his last futile appeals.
The numbers might make this particular death case seem unremarkable as the legal machinery plods through the usual judicial reviews required for a state execution. The Florida Supreme Court has twice considered and rejected his appeal claims and it seems unlikely that his lawyers will find much purchase in the federal courts. His execution has become inevitable.
Inevitable might be enough for most cases, but Juan Carlos Chavez did too much damage to this community, to a particular South Florida family, not to cause outrage at his longevity.
It was the death, on Dec. 30, of Martha Ryce that stirred these long-simmering emotions.
Normally, the suicide of a young woman would pass unremarked in these pages. Hers was different. It came with the melancholy realization that the killer of Jimmy Ryce, her little step-brother, had now outlived both Martha and her stepmother.
Both Martha, 35, and Claudine Ryce, who died of a heart attack in 2009 at age 66, had been activists in their Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, pushing anti-predator legislation in Tallahassee, danger-awareness programs in schools, raising money for tracking dogs for police departments, providing support for the families of missing children.
Yet the author of their shared misery, the ghoulish impetus for their activism, the killer who devastated their family, has now outlived them both.
Of course, there are sound reasons for years-long, exhaustive legal safeguards before the courts finally sign off on an execution. Florida courts, more than most, have made grave errors, even in murder trials. Innocents, later cleared by new evidence or DNA analysis, have been convicted. The risks and time-consuming appeals and the legal expenses necessary to maintain the death penalty raise questions about the worth of the whole morbid enterprise.
Guilt in this case, however, has never been much in doubt. On Sept. 11, 1995, nine-year-old James Samuel Ryce went missing from near his home in the Redland. For three months, the search for little Jimmy traumatized South Florida. Parents were guarding their children like refugees in a war zone. Until the landlady of a farmhand named Juan Carlos Chavez discovered Jimmy’s school backpack in his trailer.
After offering up a number of meandering explanations, Chavez finally confessed. He told police, in considerable detail, how he had kidnapped and raped Jimmy, then shot him. How he had dismembered the body and submerged the remains in large planters capped with cement. Chavez begged police to make sure he got the death penalty.
Police found the murder weapon in his trailer. And the farm tool used to dismember the child. He was certainly the child’s killer. The legal questions, over these 14 years, have been over the admissibility of certain evidence, including his confession, elicited over a 54-hour interrogation. Chavez had tried, futilely, to recant at his trial. And he also lost his enthusiasm for his own execution.
His lawyers did manage, over the years, to raise some interesting appeal issues. In 2007, his original defense lawyer testified to his own ineffectual conduct in the 1998 trial. “I was on medication for vertigo and a hearing disorder. There were times that I had to go to bed early.” The lawyer said the medication left him confused and disoriented.
The claim was not enough to give Chavez a new trial. Mostly, it renewed the family’s pain. Jimmy’s parents, Don and Claudine Ryce, after sitting through the hearing, issued an angry statement: “Our son’s killer’s claims he did not get a fair trial are ludicrous. What isn’t fair is that Jimmy did not have a chance to grow up and do all the things he wanted to do.”
Claudine died two years later. And now Martha. Friends, posting happy memories and photographs of a pretty, perpetually smiling woman on the “Remembering Martha Ryce” Facebook page, seemed at a loss to explain her private despair.
But the trauma afflicting the Ryce family has long been a shared public hurt in South Florida. And it’s hard not to rant, however irrationally, about the depressing inequity now looming over us.
Claudine and Martha are gone. Chavez still lives.

Read more here:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Police Arrest Convicted Sex Offender for Failing to Comply

Police arrest convicted sex offender for failing to comply with reporting requirements.

38-year-old Joseph Jackson Edwards tells police he is homeless.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. —Springdale police said they arrested 38-year-old Joseph Jackson Edwards for failure to comply with reporting requirements as a sex offender on Wednesday.Edwards is a high-risk level 3 sex offender in the state of Arkansas, according to a news release. He was convicted Jan. 14 of a sex crime and sentenced to probation.

Authorities said Edwards did not check in with local law enforcement after being sentenced to probation, and they had been searching for him. They found him Wednesday at Casey’s General Store, on Old Missouri Road.
Police took Edwards to the Washington County Detention Center. Edwards told authorities he was homeless.
Springdale police said Edwards had been arrested four times for indecent exposure since 2009.
*Note from Rebecca*
 It's a scary world. Everyone please be aware of your surroundings and look out for creepers like this. There are trolls in the world, folks. Be safe. If you think I am being cruel by saying that, I am sorry (kind of) but, this guy knows what he is and evaded the law. The last thing anyone wants to see is him exposing himself, gross. Cudos to the Springdale Police Department for arresting him before he re-offended, because he would have...he's done it four times since 2009 and why he keeps getting out of the clink I will never know. Maybe they will keep him this time. Anyway, well done, SPD. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Zachary Holly Defense: "Death Penalty Cruel and Unconstitutional."

You all know my stance on the death penalty. Yet, I feel I must state again that when you take a 6-year-old child out of her bed, carry her next door to an abandoned house, and then brutally rape and smother her, you should not be allowed to start whining that the death penalty is cruel. What is cruel is that there is a murdered little girl in this case, a 6-year-old cherub. 
Hey, Zachary Holly how can you even say that a little needle prick in your arm anywhere compares to being brutally raped and murdered. 
And, you people who defend these animals should reevaluate your souls.  
I'm so sick of it. 
PS Thank you Judge Karren. 

BENTONVILLE, Ark. —Judge Karren denied a motion from Zachary Holly's defense attorneys request for the death penalty to be taken off the table in Holly's murder trial. Holly's defense team called the penalty "cruel and unconstitutional."
Prosecutors said they will continue to seek the death penalty.
In August 2013, Holly was found fit to stand trial for the murder of Jersey Bridgeman after undergoing a mental evaluation. 
Holly's trial is scheduled for July 29 at 8:30 a.m. The defense has requested more time to get DHS records from California. 
On Nov. 20 2012, 6-year-old Jersey Bridgeman was reported missing from her home where she lived with her mother, Desarae Bridgeman in Bentonville. Within minutes, her body was found in a nearby vacant home. 
Holly, 24, was charged with Bridgeman's death. According to a police report, he and his wife lived next door to the family and  they had babysat Jersey the night before.
Holly has pleaded not guilty to charges of capital murder, kidnapping, rape and residential burglary. 
The young girl's death ended a short life marred by abuse. Her father and stepmother were sentenced to prison after being convicted of chaining her to a dresser in 2011.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Police Say Randall Wyers was Out on Bond When Found with Teen

FORT SMITH, Ark. —Police said 36-year-old convicted sex offender Randall Wyers was out on bond when he was found with a 14-year-old girl earlier in the week.

“He’s been charged with sexual assault fourth in Franklin and Johnson counties,” Patton said. “We have two cases pending against him right now.”
Wyers is also charged with interfering with child custody. Patton said she expects more charges to be filed; however, kidnapping won’t be among them.
“We do see her as a minor,” Patton said. “We do see her as a victim, but without going into too many facts of the case, it does appear she willingly went with him.”
Wyers bond has been set at $500,000. He will appear in court Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse for a bond revocation hearing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Kelsey Smith Act Could Be Coming To Michigan

*Note from Rebecca*
God bless the Smith family and the dedication and legacy they have created for their beautiful daughter Kelsey Smith, who was taken away from them in a brutal heartbreaking way. Please say a prayer for them and send love their way. 

In May I wrote a blog about a young lady named Kelsey Smith.  It was the tragic story of recent high school graduate from Kansas who was raped and murdered.  I wrote about her parents, who reacted to this unspeakable tragedy by dedicating their lives to try to make sure other families did not have to go through the same horror that they did.

I am writing today of some encouraging news from State Representative Kurt Heise about this story as it relates to the State of Michigan, but first, I am including an abbreviated version of my story about Kelsey Smith for those of you who do not know about her. Click on this link for the original story.

This is the slightly abbreviated story of Kelsey Smith.

Kelsey Smith was born on May 3, 1989.  She was the 3rd of what would eventually be 5 children, born to her parents Greg and Missy Smith.  From the beginning, Kelsey's parents knew she was going to be a handful.  When she was a toddler, she received a shirt that said, My Name Is No-No.

Kelsey Smith was also a kind child from the very beginning.

When she was young, and went somewhere with her parents, she would not allow them to buy her a treat unless they bought treats for her sisters.  Her brother Zach was born when she was six.  She was so protective of him that she wouldn't allow anyone to take care of him but her whenever she was around.

She was just a normal child growing up in the Midwest.

Throughout her life she was inquisitive, and questioned everything.  She was never afraid to try something new.  At Shawnee Mission West, where she attended high school, this was certainly the case, as she became involved in a whole slew of activities such as, track, theater, writer's workshop, art, and choir.  Her main passion though, was marching band.  Following her passion, she chose to attend Kansas State University, knowing that they have a strong marching band program.

She was just a normal teen growing up in the Midwest.

She was a great student, she was very focused on her future, she had a wonderful sense of humor, and she had a huge heart.  Some of the stories her parents have shared, were wonderfully funny and opened a window into her heart so that others could see inside.  These stories show how caring and kind she always was.

The kindness she showed as a child continued on into high school, as many of her friends would share their stories of her surprising them with balloon bouquets on their birthdays.  Kelsey's talent for the arts wasn't limited to theatre, choir, and band, she was also a very talented artist.

One thing she did that was amazing and heartwarming, was when a family member lost a dog to death, she would draw pictures of their pets, and give them to the family members who had lost their dog.  Today those pictures she drew, must mean so much more to the family members who received them.

She had a beautiful voice, and sang in the Shawnee Mission West Choir. One of the last times her parents ever saw her perform, she surprised them by performing a solo.  She was so excited about it, she could hardly keep it from them.

Kelsey Smith was a funny, caring, talented young lady growing up in Kansas.  She is described as one that makes a difference in someone's life.  She was not unlike many kids growing up in America.  Perhaps she reminds you of one of your own children.

Kelsey was a wonderful teen, blooming into a young lady with a promising future.

Kelsey Smith died just days after she graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School.  She was murdered.  She was abducted in a Target parking lot in Overland, Kansas on June 2, 2007.

She was last seen on surveillance video purchasing a gift for her boyfriend to celebrate 6 months being together.  Outdoor surveillance footage showed her being abducted and being forced into her car.  Her car was found abandoned approximately 2 hours later in the mall parking lot across the street.  Upon searching video surveillance, police noticed a suspicious 70's era pickup truck that had been parked in that same lot.

The search for her picked up steam almost immediately, and those searching became known as Kelsey's Army.

Almost immediately, authorities contacted her cell phone company Verizon. They wanted them to pinpoint her location by checking where her cell phone pings went to.  All cell phone companies have the technology to do this.  Under federal law, they are allowed to provide location information to authorities, without a warrant, in an emergency such as an abduction or missing persons case.

The problem is that while they are allowed to do this, they are not necessarily forced to provide this information to authorities.  In Kelsey's case, Verizon did not have a current policy on such a thing, and it ultimately took 4 days before they provided the police and the FBI the information.

They ended up telling authorities to search and area exactly 1.1 miles north of a particular cell phone tower.  It took all of 45 minutes from the time authorities received the information to find Kelsey's body in a wooded area by a lake.  So on June 6th, after four days of trying to get the cell phone records, and 9 days after she graduated, Kelsey was found.

Forensic evidence reports revealed that Kelsey Smith had been sexually assaulted, and then strangled to death.  Her body was found at 1:30 PM, and the animal that did this to her was arrested that evening.

At Kelsey's memorial, her father Greg Smith shared that Kelsey could walk into a room full of strangers, and come out with a room full of friends.

Instead of just fading away, Kelsey's Army moved forward, and transformed into the Kelsey Smith Foundation.  Greg and Missy Smith wanted something good to come of their daughter's death.  They wanted to change things in order to maybe save someone else in the future.

The Kelsey Smith Foundation today does many things.  They do safety Awareness Seminars, and they also work with outside organizations, to provide self defense training, and among other activities, they also promote nationwide, the Kelsey Smith Act.

The Kelsey Smith Act provides law enforcement with a way to quickly ascertain the location of a wireless telecommunications device if a person has been determined, by law enforcement, to be at risk of death or serious physical harm due to being kidnapped and/or missing.

The Kelsey Smith Act, named in memory of Kelsey was signed into law on April 17, 2009, by then Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.  The act was proposed my Greg and Missy Smith.   Kansas State Representative Rob Olsen sponsored the legislation, and worked with Kelsey's parents to get it passed.

Greg Smith, after serving in the United States Navy for ten years, and as a law enforcement officer for 17 years, ran for, and won a seat in the Kansas State Legislature.  He is now a State Senator.  He has sponsored and co-sponsored several laws aimed at protecting children.

He stated, " Nothing I can do will bring Kelsey back but what I can do is use that event as the impetus to make a difference in the lives of my other children, my grandchildren, and in the lives of members of my community."

Greg and Missy Smith travel the country to speak about keeping our children safe, and also the Kelsey Smith act.

Since Kansas adopted the Kelsey Smith Act, Nebraska, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Missouri, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Utah have also adopted the Kelsey Smith Act.

The Kelsey Smith Act is simple.  It seeks to mandate that cell phone providers provide location information to law enforcement in such emergencies.  Text messages are still protected, phone calls made and received are still protected under privacy laws.  All the Kelsey Smith Act mandates is that the location of the cell phone be given, and only in an emergency where a life is at stake, or physical harm could be done.

I spoke on the phone with Kelsey's father Greg, and he told me these two stories.

He told me about one instance in Tennessee, one month after the Kelsey Smith Act was enacted, a six year old boy disappeared.  Authorities acted quickly, and immediately became strongly suspicious of a convicted sex offender in the area.  They were able to track his cell phone down, and rescue this child before the man could molest him.  This man had been convicted in the past of molesting at least 10 children.  Thanks to the Kelsey Smith Act, this young boy did not have to go through that life changing horror.

There is another case where a man had a stroke.  He was able to dial his home phone number, but couldn't speak to give his location.  Police were able to quickly locate him using location information from his cell phone provider.  Another life saved.

These are only two stories shared to me by Kelsey's father Greg.  Mr. Smith also told me that he and his wife Missy travel to any state willing to take up this legislation for consideration.

The Kelsey Smith Act is a simple law to pass.  It doesn't cost one dime to implement.It has passed with bipartisan support in 9 states, and I would like Michigan to be the tenth state to adopt the Kelsey Smith act.

In most abduction cases, there is a very limited window of time between the abduction, and harm being done to the victim.  Law enforcement needs to be able to quickly obtain the information on the location of the victim or the suspected perpetrator of the crime.

According to John Ryan, who is the chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing And Exploited Children, "Time is of the essence when a child is missing, the first three hours are critical to recovering a child alive."

Look, I'll be the first one to admit that I am no expert in this field, but from what I know,  the experts all seem to agree that the Kelsey Smith Act would be an invaluable tool in saving lives, and in the worst case scenarios, bringing closure for families.  As someone who has spent some time researching this, I wholeheartedly agree.

I can't begin to fully understand the heartache that the Smith family felt, and the hole in their lives that still exists, but in learning about their story, I know that if I didn't try to do something here in Michigan, I would feel like I let them down every time a child goes missing, and cannot be found.

The last thing Kelsey's father Greg said to me was that if there is a legislator willing to sponsor the Kelsey Smith Act, he would be willing to fly to Michigan and speak about this legislation, and answer any questions Michigan lawmakers may have.

So now that you know the story, here is we stand.

Back in May, I contacted a young lady named Brooke, who works for Patch, it was my understanding that she was the one who helped out the bloggers, or in my case, kept them in line.  I submitted Kelsey's story to her, and asked if she could try to get it on other Patch sites in Michigan.  It was my hope that with the exposure, and many calls to State Representative's offices, that maybe I could get somebody to champion the Kelsey Smith Act for Michigan.

Patch was kind enough to carry Kelsey's story on every Patch site in the state, and I started making calls to State Representatives.  As it turns out, my efforts paid off right here in Plymouth Township.

Our State Representative, Kurt Heise contacted me via email asking for more information.  As it turns out, Mr. Heise is the Chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee, which makes him the perfect person to not only understand the value of having the Kelsey Smith Act, but also the best person to escort it through the legislative process.

Over the course of the last several weeks we've corresponded regularly, and questions have been asked and answered.  Mr. Heise has reviewed all of the information, and has reviewed the specific legislation from other states where the Kelsey Smith Act has become law.

Mr. Heise has also spoken to various communications companies concerning this law, and discussed ways in which he can codify the intent of the Kelsey Smith Act into sensible legislation for the state of Michigan.

My opinion is that he is going about this the absolute best way possible.  He is taking input from the very folks that will be charged with implementing the policies that will make the Kelsey Smith Act work seamlessly for Michigan law enforcement agencies.

When both parties are on board with legislation, you get legislation that is effective, and that is exactly what Representative Heise is seeking to achieve.

Up until now, I have been hesitant to update this story, and Mr. Heise's efforts, because there were never any promises made that he could see this thing through.  It is still not a done deal, but I just felt that there has been enough progress made, where there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and I really wanted to publicly thank my State Representative for his efforts on behalf of not only the Smith family, but also on behalf of all families who have had, or may sometime in the future have to deal with a crisis like what the Smith family has dealt with.

Mr Heise is to be commended.  He has represented to me what our government was always intended to be.  A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  I had an issue that I felt strongly about.  He was more than willing to give this issue fair consideration, and he has worked hard to determine if this legislation is right for the children and families in the state of Michigan.

In the end, even if this effort ends up being all for naught, I will know that my State Representative gave it a fair effort, and I can ask no more. Obviously, I hope that the Kelsey Smith Act becomes law in our state, but either way, I thank Mr. Heise, and his staff for all of their efforts on my behalf.

Update:  Representative Heise just recently sent me an email detailing further progress.  It states that he has decided to have a bill drafted by the Legislative Services Bureau, and that he intends to file the bill in the fall, if not sooner.  That my friends, is great news!

Again, I would like to thank Mr. Heise for all of his work, and the timely emails detailing his progress on the Kelsey Smith Act...
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