A statewide, centralized cold-case database may be established in Utah, making it easier for law enforcement agencies to connect and share information.
SB160, introduced Thursday in the Legislature, would require law enforcement agencies across the state to share information for any unsolved missing persons or homicide case that is three or more years old.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, would charge the Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division with developing and maintaining the “secure” database.
The division would determine what information should be collected and maintained for the database, as well as which information would be publicly accessible, the bill says.
Police would also be required to maintain physical evidence and investigation files for each case “unless otherwise agreed by the law enforcement agency and the division.”
Last month, the Utah Cold Case Coalition held a news conference advocating for such a database and nicknamed the proposed legislation “Rosie’s Bill” in memory of Rosie Tapia, a 6-year-old who disappeared from her Salt Lake City home 22 years ago. Rosie’s body was found hours later, and showed evidence that she’d been sexually assaulted and then drowned. Her case remains open.
Rosie’s parents Lewine and Roberta Tapia attended the January news conference and spoke about the heartache her unsolved case has brought to their family.
“It hurts,” the mother said. “You’d think it would get easier after 23 years, but it doesn’t.”
Coalition founder and attorney Karra Porter said that Weiler agreed to carry the bill in the legislative session. “We owe it to the victims’ families,” Weiler told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The senator said he was surprised Utah doesn’t already have a centralized cold-case database.
Weiler said he has discussed the proposed legislation with officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety to make sure such a database wouldn’t compromise investigations.
Currently, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification has a webpage for missing persons and unsolved homicides, but the database is incomplete and out of date, said another of the coalition’s founders and private investigator Jason K. Jensen.
A centralized system could be established using existing resources, Jensen said, adding that it would make information more uniform, complete and search-friendly.
Proposes the development and maintenance of a centralized statewide database for law enforcement agencies to share information on cold cases of missing persons or homicides that are three or more years old. - Read full text