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WICHITA, Kansas – Colton Barrera was just 17-years-old when he went missing from a skate park in Russell. Almost five years have passed, torturing his mother, Lynda Kerby, who often frequents the last place he was seen.
“I sat there this morning, and a couple of tears rolled down my eyes.”
Because of his age, Colton was automatically labeled a run-away making the search for him a much slower process, but a new law created by Senator Greg Smith could help bring stories like Colton’s back to the forefront.
“Someone can be missing five minutes, and you can make a missing persons case. This ensures that, that will happen,” said Smith.
In 2007, the former cop turned senator’s 18-year-old daughter, Kelsey Smith, was abducted from a department store in Overland Park.
Five days later, her body was found in a wooded area. Unlike Barrera, search parties immediately began searching for Smith.
Under the new law, there will be no more waiting for anyone.
“Any law that comes forward that puts light on that situation is a good thing,” said Kerby.
“It doesn’t add any work.You make an entry into a computer system, report someone is missing and make an entry in a computer system and take them back out,” said Smith.
It will also place 30-day-old cases like Colton’s in a high risk category.
“It may cause law enforcement to take a second look at you know what we’ve got X number of missing persons cases that are over 60 days or 90 days, and they can prioritize and categorize and decide where resources need to be spent trying to find some of those people,” said Smith.
Every year, there are about 2,300 people reported missing in the United States.
Two hundred are adults but most are kids.
From now on, police in Kansas will have to notify the Center for Missing and Exploited Children when there’s a missing persons case and the center will provide free posters to families of the missing person.