Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Named for Slain Toddler Who 'Captured Your Heart'

·3 min read

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Evelyn Mae Boswell

A bill named in honor of 15-month-old Evelyn Mae Boswell is headed to the desk of the Tennessee governor after state lawmakers unanimously passed it earlier this week.

If signed into law, the measure known as "Evelyn Boswell's Law" would require parents or legal guardians to notify a law enforcement agency or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within 24 hours of the disappearance of a child 12 or younger.

Failure to do so would result in a Class A misdemeanor. If the missing child is found to have serious bodily injury, the penalty would be higher.

Presenting the bill to the state's General Assembly on Thursday, the sponsor in the House of Representatives, Rep. John Crawford, said it was the result of meetings with local law enforcement in the wake of Evelyn's disappearance in early 2020.

Her remains were found weeks later; her mom has been charged with felony murder in her death and pleaded not guilty.

"We had hope that we would find this little baby. But we didn't — she was murdered," Crawford said on Thursday. "The family members, the mother, they were questioned and they [said] that the baby was on vacation with a friend, or was with the grandmother in a different state and all this. This went on for months. Cost the counties, cost the state a lot of money getting the runaround."

"It won't make a difference in Evelyn Boswell's life and in our community," Crawford said. "But hopefully it will keep you guys from experiencing this in your county."

RELATED: The Mysterious Case of Toddler Evelyn Mae Boswell & Her Accused Mom: Everything to Know

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Evelyn Mae Boswell

After meeting with law enforcement, Crawford said he and other legislators drafted the law. He said it was the vision of former Rep. Timothy Hill, who introduced it in the previous legislative session, where it foundered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the assembly's approval this week, the legislation heads to the desk of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to be signed into law.

Evelyn, the bill's namesake, was last seen in December 2019, though her family did not report her missing until February 2020.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, authorities first learned that Evelyn was missing after hearing from her great-grandfather, who stated that he had not seen the toddler since the holidays.

In March 2020, investigators confirmed they had positively identified the remains of the missing child on a property belonging to a family member.

RELATED: Body Believed to Be That of Missing Toddler Evelyn Mae Boswell Found at Family Member's Property

A police spokeswoman said at the time, "We understand that Evelyn captured your hearts. She captured ours as well."

Evelyn's mother, Megan "Maggie" Boswell, was initially arrested in the days before Evelyn's remains were found. She was charged with one count of false reporting.

"Every time we talk to her, her story changes," Sullivan County, Tennessee, Sheriff Jeff Cassidy told reporters following her arrest. "And I'm serious about that. Every single time."

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

RELATED: Evelyn Mae Boswell's Grandfather Says Family — Excluding Arrested Grandmother — Is in 'Anguish'

Boswell was subsequently indicted in August on a total of 19 charges, including felony murder, related to her daughter's disappearance and death.

In addition to 12 counts of false reporting, Boswell was also indicted on one count of aggravated child abuse, one count of aggravated child neglect, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of abuse of corpse and one count of failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual, or unnatural circumstances.

Boswell's next court date is set for May 14.

If she is found guilty, prosecutors are reportedly expected to seek a life sentence without parole.