Cornyn Bill to Help Solve Cold Cases Signed Into Law
New Law Inspired by Austin Yogurt Shop Murders
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act, which requires federal agencies to revisit cold case murder files and apply new technologies in search of potential breakthroughs, into law:
“This legislation will help ensure federal law enforcement reviews sometimes decades-old cold case files and applies the latest technologies and investigative standards,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This process will help bring grieving families resolution in the midst of tragic circumstances, and I am proud of the bipartisan support for this bill which is now law.”
Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and John Kennedy (R-LA) also cosponsored the legislation.
Over 30 years ago, a quadruple homicide claimed the lives of four teenage girls in Austin, Texas and today the case remains unsolved. The Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act was inspired by this case and would require federal agencies to look at cold cases with a fresh set of eyes and apply the most up-to-date technologies and investigative standards.
The bill will also empower immediate family members to request a cold case review so long as it meets certain basic criteria. Federal agencies will be able to determine if they have exhausted all possible leads or the cold case request does not meet the standard for review, and federal law enforcement agencies would be required to provide annual reports to Congress on what is working and not working with cold case reviews.
The bill is supported by the National District Attorney Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the Murder Accountability Project, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and other victims’ rights groups.