Public anger over Casey Anthony’s acquittal in the killing of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee has spurred Tennessee legislators to join lawmakers around the country in calling for making it a crime for parents to fail to report a child missing within 24 hours.
Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, announced Monday that they are filing a bill to make it a punishable crime when parents or guardians fail to timely notify authorities when a child under their care is missing. They joined Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, in calling for the new law.
“As Tennessee lawmakers, we cannot do anything to change the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida, but we can and should strengthen our laws here in Tennessee,” Stewart said. “If a child is missing, the authorities should be notified immediately, not one day or 30 days later.”
Under Fitzhugh and Stewart’s bill, failure to notify authorities would constitute a misdemeanor. In situations in which bodily injury or death of the child resulted, the crime would be elevated to a felony.
Last week’s verdict in the Anthony trial in Orlando, Fla., sparked a national movement with more than 1 million people signing petitions to create what’s become known as Caylee’s Law. Anthony didn’t report her daughter missing for a month.