Bills funding cold case database, genetic genealogy pilot clear Wyoming House, moving through Senate committees

    Two legislative proposals that would provide additional funding for cold case investigations in the state have cleared the Wyoming House of Representatives and are awaiting consideration in the Senate.

    House Bill 29 allocates $150,000 to the Wyoming Attorney General’s office to develop a cold case database that tracks homicides or felony sexual offenses that remain unsolved for two years or more after begin reported to a law enforcement agency.

    The legislation also asks the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation to adopt rules about the cold case information that must be collected from law enforcement agencies in the state and maintained in the database.


    “Each law enforcement agency in the state that has a cold case committed or reported on or after Jan. 1, 1972, shall provide to the division the information specified by rule of the division for inclusion in the database,” the bill states.

    Cara Chambers, director of the Wyoming Division of Victim Services for the AG’s office and chair of Wyoming’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force, clarified that the law enforcement agencies are not being asked to “turn over any investigations to DCI” as a result of the legislation – rather, they are being asked to provide information for the database.

    “We’re just trying to get data into the database quicker to expedite that chance of making a discovery quicker,” she told the House Judiciary Committee during a meeting this month.

    Anita Roman, who serves as Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s liaison to the Northern Arapaho Tribe, talked about the “closure” a solved cold case can bring to the family members involved – some of whom have been waiting “20, 30 years” to find out who killed their loved one.


    “It tears up families,” she said, remembering her sister-in-law, who left behind “three beautiful boys” when she was murdered – as well as a grieving mother who “did everything she could to bring (the) murder to light, to justice.”

    Despite the family’s best efforts, however, Roman said “we just don’t know who did it.”

    “It tore the family apart,” she said. “The boys are not OK, (and) her mother never recovered. … It destroyed our family in a lot of ways. And there’s never going to be that person at the dinner table. There’s nothing that we can do for her.”


    Roman said she has personally known six other women and one man who have been murdered, and only two of those cases have been solved.

    Five of the murdered people she knew were found outside of the reservation jurisdiction, she added.

    HB 29 says if any funding is left over after the database is created, the money should be spent to investigate cold cases.


    Forensic genetic genealogy

    House Bill 58 appropriates $150,000 to DCI to operate a forensic genetic genealogy pilot program from July 2024 through June 2029.

    The pilot program will provide “forensic genetic genealogical DNA analyses and searches to assist in generating leads for criminal investigations or identifying human remains in investigations,” according to the bill.

    Those investigations may be conducted by DCI, or by law enforcement agencies in the state that apply for grants through the pilot program, the bill states.

    HB 29 and HB 58 were both introduced in the Wyoming Senate this week.

    The were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday and will be re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval before they are considered on the Senate floor.


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