New York State – Introduce Cold Case Legislation

In 2021, I started Cold Case Advocacy to bring more attention to the issue of unsolved cold cases across the state of New York. The fight began with the thirty-eight-year unsolved homicide of Kristin O’Connell, but the work expanded to include other unsolved cases in Ohio, Rhode Island, and California.  So many families are waiting for justice, and for their voices to be heard. Cold Case Advocacy quickly narrowed focus on filling a critical gap- developing cold case advocacy resources and pioneering the use of digital advocacy to bring more attention to a loved one’s unsolved cold case. CCA and the family of Kristin O’Connell believe there is a critical need for the State of New York to implement legislation to provide more resources to law enforcement to solve cold cases and more support to homicide victims’ families.

 

On May 19, 2021, H.R. 3359, also known as the Federal Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act of 2021 (HVFRA), was introduced to the House of Representatives.  The bipartisan bill, is co-sponsored by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX). The Committee on the Judiciary report cited the following statistics:

●       There are currently over 250,000 unsolved murder cases in the U.S., and the number increases by 6,000 each year;

●       This number is a conservative estimate since 48% of “death investigation and missing person cases” are classified as “undetermined cause” and not included in the unsolved murder case data; and,

●       4 in 10 murder victims’ families do not receive closure for their loved ones’ cases.

On August 3, 2022, H.R. 3359 was signed by President Biden and became public law as  PL 117-164. The bill is designed to create a system to review cold case files at the federal level. The goal is to provide both law enforcement and victims’ families with the tools and resources to solve these cases. 

 NEW YORK STATE

We believe a NY State-focused homicide victims family rights act (Kristin’s Law) would provide much-needed resources to law enforcement and provide support and relief to families like those of Kristin O’Connell.

 The NY homicide clearance rate is 61% a figure that has been steadily declining since 1965.