LANSING — State Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Rick Jones announced Wednesday that they are working together to prevent a tragedy similar to what occurred in Florida from happening in Michigan. They also called on lawmakers to approve legislation that makes it illegal to not report the discovery of a dead body in Michigan.
The measure, Senate Bill 231, sponsored by Schuitmaker, would make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. It would also make it a felony of up to five years and a $5,000 fine for not reporting a dead body with the intent to hide or conceal that death or cause of death.
“The case of little Caylee Anthony’s death breaks my heart,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “That she was left missing, dead and unreported for a month before being discovered is a horrible tragedy. While we can’t prevent bad parenting, we certainly can help bring justice to those that deserve it, and we are working together to ensure something like this doesn't happen here in Michigan.”
Jones chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the bill in May.
“I am shocked by the outcome of Florida’s trial of the Casey Anthony case,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Not simply because of the verdict, but because it brings to light that there are no safeguards in place to ensure a little missing child has to be reported to law enforcement. Which is why I requested a bill be drafted to make it a felony to not report a known missing child within 24 hours of them going missing.”
Jones requested legislation to require that law enforcement be notified within 24 hours of when a child goes missing.
“It is important that we try to ensure a travesty like what happened to little Caylee doesn’t happen here,” Jones said. “It is unthinkable that a person, especially a parent, could go as long as they want without reporting a missing child with virtually no consequences. That’s just plain wrong.”
The Senate unanimously passed SB 231 in June, and it awaits action by the state House of Representatives.