House unanimously approves Mosbrucker’s ‘Cody’s Law’ to find missing persons

The state House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that could help solve missing persons cases in Washington by having investigating agencies submit those cases and DNA samples to a national database.

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, who sponsored the measure, says DNA kits with return postage are available from the National Institute of Justice, so no additional costs would be incurred by local law enforcement agencies, county coroners and medical examiners submitting the information.

House Bill 2792 is also known as “Cody’s Law,” named after Cody Turner, who has been missing from his Yakima home since July 26, 2015, when he was 24 years old.

“This bill came from a constituent — a mom who’s simply looking for her son for the last four years. Today, she’s still looking nights and days,” said Mosbrucker. “She walked me through the journey from the Yakima area on where the state could have done a better job to help find and continue looking. This bill addresses those ways.”

Cody’s mother, Michelle Joe, told KIMA Action News last summer that after she didn’t hear from her son for a few days, she knew something was wrong.

“I just had this feeling come over me that something wasn’t right. I swear I heard him say, ‘hey mom, I’m sorry and I love you’ and it’s like I watched his life go before my eyes,” she told KIMA.

The original bill would have required investigating agencies to submit missing persons cases to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). The measure was amended during floor consideration so those cases would now be required to be entered into the National Crime Information Center through the Washington State Patrol’s electronic database when the missing person has not been found within 30 days of the report, or at any time the investigating agency suspects criminal activity is involved.

“The Washington State Patrol and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs found a way to route this better than we planned in the original bill,” Mosbrucker explained.

The amendment also provides that, when funding is available, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs will regularly transmit information contained within the statewide missing and unidentified persons website to NamUs.

The bill notes that a recent search of available missing and unidentified persons data for Washington state returned 1,926 pending missing persons cases and 172 records of full or partial unidentified remains throughout the state.

“We need to have data go into one central place to gather the information so we can get those exact numbers. This bill simply finds the best path to do that. So if we are missing our daughter or son, we know where to go to find that information and utilize all resources to find them immediately,” said Mosbrucker.

“I’ve learned a lot while sponsoring this bill — really sad and shocking stories. While speaking at the National Missing Persons Conference last fall, I was told there could be as many as 40-thousand unidentified bodies across the United States. Families and law enforcement are still looking — and all we really need to do is gather and match DNA,” noted Mosbrucker.

The 14th District lawmaker encourages families with missing loved ones to submit their DNA to NamUS, which could use that information to search for them and make sure they are not among unidentified remains.

“We’re trying to find Cody,” she added. “This bill is called ‘Cody’s Law,’ and we’re doing everything we can to reach out and find him. We need to find closure, because one child missing is one too many.”

The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.