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State officials fight for accountability in honor of missing child

By Meg Dickens
STAFF WRITER

Public concern is steadily increasing since the amber alert for 15-month-old Sullivan County toddler, Evelyn Boswell, went out on February 19. Multiple organizations, including Ballad Health, made donations towards a reward that now exceeds $61,000. The TBI and FBI are still searching for Evelyn with no results. Now Tennessee officials are taking steps to prevent this type of incident with the updated legislation.Tennessee State Representatives Timothy Hill (Blountville), John Crawford (Kingsport), and Bud Hulsey (Kingsport) introduced an amendment to current legislation on February 26. This legislation, now known as Evelyn’s Law, requires guardians to verbally report missing children within 48 hours and follow up with a written report per law enforcement.

Time is of the essence in these types of cases. According to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, delaying reports by as little as 24 hours allows crucial time to pass in investigations. Failure to report is now a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to up to 11 months and 29 days incarcerated, up to $2,500 in fines, or both. If this failure or delay leads to serious injury or death, the charge is increased to a Class C misdemeanor that is punishable by three to fifteen years incarcerated and up to $10,000 in fines.

“This legislation is the result of ongoing conversations with Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy, and his input and feedback has helped us create a solution that may be extremely beneficial in these specific instances,” said Rep. Hill. “While we continue to pray for little Evelyn’s safe return, we must continue our work strengthening state laws so we can hold those with no regard for the well-being or safety of their children accountable for their reckless behavior.”

As of February 29, there have been no confirmed sightings of Evelyn but over 800 tips sent to authorities. The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office made a statement asking people to stop spreading rumors on the case on social media because it is impeding the investigation. All court documents are sealed and not available to the public.

“That’s the problem with social media. It creates so much stir. I urge those that are spreading rumors to stop,” Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Andy Seabolt said. “Everyone has an opinion, and I respect that; however, the rumors complicate the investigation further.”

People gathered in Louis H. Humphrey Park for a prayer vigil this past Sunday. Officers have followed the trail from the original BOLO(Be On the Look Out) on a stolen gray BMW to a pond in Wilkes County, North Carolina, on the same road as McCloud’s grandmother’s home. After multiple arrests, there is still no sign of baby Evelyn.
Evelyn’s mother, Megan, headed back to court in Bristol Justice Center on Monday, March 2, to face charges for false reports. Her bond remains at $25,000. Both grandmother Angela Boswell and William McCloud are currently out on bail. Please contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with any information on Evelyn’s whereabouts at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463).