OLATHE, Kan. — There’s a renewed effort in Congress to pass federal legislation in memory of a metro teen who was kidnapped and murdered.
Kelsey Smith was killed 12 years ago, and ever since, her parents have been determined to pass legislation they say will save lives.
“It is very painful still,” Kelsey’s mother Missey Smith said.
Greg and Missey Smith still long for their daughter Kelsey. The 18-year-old was kidnapped in Johnson County, Kansas, back in June 2007.
Since then, they’ve been on a mission to keep her memory alive in a way that’s helping law enforcement keep others safe.
“There’s always a reminder that she’s around, but knowing that someone else has been saved because she’s not here helps us to keep moving forward,” Missey Smith said.
When Kelsey went missing, it took the cell phone company four days to release location information from her phone. Once that happened, authorities found her body in less than an hour.
The Smiths have helped champion legislation that’s now effective in 24 states, including Kansas, to change how cell phone information is accessed by police.
“We have tons of success stories of people who have been saved,” Greg Smith said.
The newer laws that have passed typically require wireless carriers to provide device location data to police if the phone was used to call 911 in the previous 48 hours or if there’s a reason to believe someone is in imminent danger.
“Without having it as a federal law though, federal law enforcement can’t use it. And the FBI is one of the premier agencies for missing persons, and they don’t have access to this tool,” Greg Smith said.
For the past three years, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and his team have been working hard to craft the Kelsey Smith Act.
Now Rep. Sharice Davids is joining those efforts with Rep. Ron Estes in the U.S. House.
“We’re trying to make sure that we get some uniformity in how we approach really keeping people safe when there’s been an incident,” Davids said.
Davids remembers hearing about Kelsey’s case when she was young and hopes after a decade of her family fighting for change, the Kelsey Smith Act will finally become federal law.
“It really can make a difference between whether or not somebody is still here with us,” Davids said.