SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Legislation named in the memory of a Sullivan County toddler who went missing in 2020 is now Tennessee law.
When the AMBER alert went out for Evelyn Boswell in February of last year, police learned early on that she had actually not been seen by some family members since December.
Police found her body on family-owned property in March after an extensive investigation into her disappearance.
The new law makes it illegal in Tennessee to not report your child, who is 12 or younger, missing within the first 24 hours.
For Sheriff Jeff Cassidy of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, the legislation is something good to come of the tragic death of baby Evelyn.
“She’s probably smiling down from heaven thinking about it,” said Cassidy.
Breaking Evelyn Boswell’s law will result in a Class A misdemeanor charge.
“It just amazed me that we didn’t have something on the books already that addressed this,” said Tennessee State Representative John Crawford of Kingsport.
Rep. Crawford and State Senator Jon Lundberg of Bristol sponsored the legislation, which was passed unanimously in the Tennessee House and Senate. Governor Bill Lee signed the law in April.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Crawford.
Sheriff Cassidy said if this law would have been active during the Boswell investigation, it would not have prevented the death of Evelyn. However, it would have given officers a charge to arrest mother Megan Boswell much earlier in their investigation, for not reporting her daughter missing within the first day.
“We were behind the eight ball the entire investigation, not knowing the exact timeline of events when Evelyn went missing,” said Sheriff Cassidy. “That first 24, 48, 72 hours is crucial in the recovery of a child. Two months goes by, you don’t know where they are at, where they have been.”
Police ultimately arrested Megan Boswell on charges of providing false reports. She was later charged with felony murder in Evelyn’s death and is awaiting trial.
Sheriff Cassidy says having this law in place at the time could have helped their investigation, but most importantly it holds parents responsible for neglecting their child’s safety.
“We definitely needed this law. I think it’s going to help other police chiefs, sheriffs, law enforcement agencies, first responders in the future. I really do,” said Cassidy.
This case captured the heart of the Tri-Cities community, many taking part in the “Justice for Evelyn” movement.
“I’m hoping this bill will help us heal, will help our community heal,” said Crawford.
Baby Evelyn’s legacy is forever stamped into Tennessee law as bringing justice for other missing children.
“This is not gonna affect our case with little Evelyn. But maybe it will prevent this from happening in another community and they won’t have to go through what we went through,” said Crawford.
Megan Boswell remains in the Sullivan County jail on charges of felony murder, she has pleaded not guilty. Her next court date is scheduled for Sept. 30.
For complete coverage of the Evelyn Boswell case, CLICK HERE.