Kelsey’s Law helped police track cell phone to find stolen car with baby inside

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LENEXA, Kan. -- A five-month-old girl is home with her family Tuesday night, thanks to police and a law that was passed after an 18-year-old girl was kidnapped and murdered nearly eight years ago.

The baby's parents met with someone in a Bank of America parking lot to talk about buying a car. The baby was in her carseat and her parents stepped out of the car, but left the engine running.

As they talked, a stranger jumped in the car and drove off. Within an hour, the parents were reunited with their daughter.

Police were aided by “Kelsey's Law,” which allows officers to get access to cell phone information in an emergency. What happened Monday night was a textbook case of the law’s use.

"This morning when I saw that that's what had occurred, that Kelsey's Law helped to find this baby, and this baby was found in less than an hour, I literally started crying," explained Missey Smith.

For Missey, it's bittersweet. She's happy the baby was found safe, but it stirs up memories of her daughter Kelsey, who was kidnapped from a Target parking lot in June 2007.

It took 16 seconds for her to be forced into her car just five parking spaces from the store's front door.
During the investigation, police met with resistance when asking a cell phone company to track, or ping, Kelsey’s phone. Several days later, the company complied and Kelsey's body was found within an hour.

Immediate cooperation wouldn't have saved Kelsey, but she would have been found much sooner. It wasn't long after that Missey and her husband Greg made it their mission to keep that from happening again.

"Just the fact that Greg and I had this concept that police should be able to access this information when someone is missing and their life is in danger," she said.

Smith says concepts don't always become a reality, but this one did. “Kelsey's Law” is enforced in 16 states, with five more set for votes in 2015. They'll continue to fight for all 50, but the end game is to make it a federal law.

"I don't care if it takes 10 years, 15 years, it's going to happen," Smith said.

Smith often hears about success stories from states which have “Kelsey's Law,” and it's often met with emotion.

"When you do, like this morning, you cry and you just say this 18-year-old is still making a difference," Missey said.

Technology isn't always a success, surveillance cameras at the bank and at the convenience store where the suspect dumped the car did not capture the suspects face.

Right now, finding the man hinges on fingerprints and witnesses who haven't come forward. If you can help, call TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.