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Bill establishes cold-case database

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Via the Wyoming News Exchange

POWELL (WNE)  — In July of 2021, Cody resident Danell Bennett went missing. It’s been three years since her disappearance and the case has gone cold.

Once House Bill 29 goes into effect, Bennett’s case and all other Wyoming cold cases could get a boost toward being solved due to new state resources.

“We have several cold cases around the state,” said Park County Sheriff Darrell Steward. “[The database] would help draw extra resources to the division to help the locals.”

After overwhelming support in the Legislature, HB 29 was signed Friday by Gov. Mark Gordon.

The bill will go into effect on July 1 and grants $150,000 to the attorney general's office. The money will fund the development of a database for cold cases and help with case investigations.

Cases that have remained unsolved for two or more years can be submitted to the database with the hope of providing new potential leads.

“I believe that it is important that law enforcement have the tools they need to solve one of the [most] heinous crimes committed,” said Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams (R-Cody), vice chairman of the Judicial House Committee. “Databases do add value to the public by sharing the information and for neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions.”

There are an estimated 150 cold cases in Wyoming, including numerous cases in Park County and the rest of the Big Horn Basin.

“Once DCI gets that database up and running, if it passes, then we all will be submitting as much information as we can,” Steward said. “We would like to get these people found and their loved ones notified. Hopefully, they’re in good health somewhere else.”

This story was published on March 21, 2024.

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