AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that requires law enforcement to enter missing persons case details into a national database.
House Bill 1419, also known as “John and Joseph’s Law”, also requires a justice of the peace or a medical examiner to enter details about unidentified bodies into the same database, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Case details can include dental records, fingerprints and clothing descriptions.
HB 1419 is named after John Almendarez and Joseph Fritts of Houston — whose respective families had to wait several years before their bodies were identified.
Both families said if this measure was in place before, it would’ve closed their cases much sooner.
“This is something that really needs to happen. This is something that’s long overdue, it matters,” said Alice Almendarez, John’s daughter, after the legislation passed in the Texas Senate last month.
David Fritts, father to Joseph, also helped with advocating for the bill, saying last month, “It’s hard to relate to people or other people to relate to you, you know, looking for your child for years. And I think it’ll help, you know, it’ll help families not have to go through that.”
The bill goes into effect Sept. 1 and would not require additional funding.