Three Northeast Tennessee state representatives introduced an amendment to existing legislation Wednesday, Feb. 26, that would increase penalties against parents or guardians who delay reporting a missing child to law enforcement within an appropriate amount of time.
Under the amendment introduced by Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), and Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport), existing legislation would be renamed Evelyn’s Law in honor of 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell, the subject of a Tennessee statewide AMBER alert, WZTV reported.
Evelyn is believed to have gone missing Dec. 26, 2019, but was not reported missing to authorities until Feb. 18, 2020.
“Evelyn’s Law,” which was encouraged by an online petition garnered thousands of signatures, would require parents or guardians to verbally report their child as missing, abducted, or as a runaway within 48 hours of the child’s disappearance.
A written report would follow the verbal report if requested by law enforcement, according to the release.
Under Evelyn’s Law, failure to report or delaying a report while demonstrating a reckless disregard for the safety of a child would be considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
Additionally, a missing child receives serious bodily harm or dies as a result of a guardian failing to report the disappearance, the parent or guardian will be charged with a Class C felony, which is punishable by 3-15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Hill said the legislation is the result of ongoing conversations with Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy about what could be done at the state law level for cases like Evelyn’s. Cassidy has said the lengthy delay in reporting Evelyn’s disappearance hinders the search.
“While we continue to pray for little Evelyn’s safe return, we must continue our work strengthening state laws so we can hold those with no regard for the well-being or safety of their children accountable for their reckless behavior,” Hill said.
Evelyn remains missing as of Wednesday, Feb. 26. Anyone who sees her should call 1-800-TBI-FIND.
AMBER ALERT: We need your help to locate 15-month-old Evelyn Mae Boswell, who is missing from Sullivan County.
— Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) February 20, 2020