The Senate will next consider the legislation named for a Monongalia County teenager whose body was found in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The full House of Delegates approved Skylar’s Law with a 98-0 vote on Wednesday at the State House.  It would expand the state’s Amber Alert system to include any child who has disappeared and is believed to be in danger.

“Time is of the essence when someone is missing,” said Monongalia County Delegate Charlene Marshall, the main sponsor of the bill. 

Skylar Neese, 16, was last seen alive last summer when she got into a waiting car after leaving her family’s Star City home.  She was initially considered a runaway so an Amber Alert was not issued for her.

Skylar’s father, Dave, has talked with lawmakers about the bill.  “He does not want to see another family go through what he and his wife and the remainder of the family has gone through,” Delegate Marshall said.

Right now, Amber Alerts in West Virginia are issued through a partnership between State Police, the West Virginia Broadcasters, the West Virginia Emergency Alert System and the National Weather Service.

An emergency message is sent to alert the public when a child, 17 or younger, has been abducted and it is believed the child’s life is in grave danger.

Law enforcement officers must have enough descriptive information about the child, the abductor and the suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast will help locate the child.

This bill would open those restrictions up in some ways, possibly leading to more Amber Alerts.

“I think this is something we need to do to show the youth of West Virginia, parents and children, that we are definitely behind our young people,” Delegate Marshall said on Wednesday’s MetroNews Talkline.

At this point, no one has been charged with a role in Skylar Neese’s death.

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Comment

  • Patrick Nichols

    Now we need to ask how many children "Skylar's Law" will end up killing?

    We have seen many cases where warnings of floods, or tornadoes, or blizzards are posted that later turn out to be false. Then, when it is critical, people simply don't pay attention. The latest example was in Atlanta, when people simply didn't pay attention to the ice warning because there had been too many false alarms.

    This is exactly what will happen with "Skylar's Law." The public will be bombarded with so many false alarms that they will simply not pay attention to the real cases where an alert can make a difference. This has already started to happen in California.

    Your child is fifteen minutes late coming home from work? Issue an Amber Alert! With hundreds of them being issued every week, people will no longer pay attention to any of them.

    I am pretty sure Skylar Neese would not have been wanted to be associated with a law that will certainly result in the needless death of many abducted children.