Janice Smolinski’s quiet spoken and friendly demeanor defies the “tiger in her tank” that has sprung forth more times than she would like in the fight to locate her missing son, Billy. Billy’s case and the effort to pass legislation bearing his name has taken up residence on the Peace4the Missing site as well as a customized website, Justice4Billy, since 2004.
This case is called the hot potato…not because they are “hot on the trail of finding Billy.” It has this reputation in the morass of local, state and federal errors that have consumed this family’s life… but not weakened their resolve or determination in their quest to find answers!
Listen to the show, SHATTERED LIVES:
It appears the biggest obstacle is the fact that Billy was a Caucasian, fit male, aged 31, and 200 pounds when he suddenly dropped off the radar. Adult men like Billy don’t “go missing” so the local police said, “They walk off. “ Not so, said Jan and her family. It is at this point of departure of opinion that set forth one of the lengthier and most arduous tales in the annals of criminal justice history!
It is a virtual laundry list of events … Some events have everything to do with the case and other events are just pure evil meant to attack the victim, and Jan personally, to distract from the real focus- Billy! This blog will attempt to list the highlights only of this 7.5 year saga, in hopes that you will be interested and get involved at some level… for this case and Billy’s legacy, with Jan’s assistance is really about helping all who go missing!
“The good part” is that Jan climbed the legislative and Congressional Mount Everest to achieve State of Connecticut HB 6113 pertaining to the manner in which State police handle missing adults. HB 6113 is as a major step toward protecting missing and endangered adults. The bill requires police departments to accept all reports filed of all missing persons age 18 and older without delay and to input all collected information into appropriate databases in efforts to locate them.
In a bipartisan effort, with the assistance of Congressmen Christopher Murphy (D -CT) and Ted Poe (R- Texas),the Help Find the Missing Act, “Billy’s Law” was initially introduced to empower families and loved ones of the missing to find justice by helping to secure funding for the only federal database for missing persons and unidentified remains that can be cross-searched, accessed and added to by the public – the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). This database enables the loved ones of the missing to search for a match and add valuable information to the case profile that only they know once it has been approved by the law enforcement agency handling their case.
The legislation helps to streamline the reporting process for law enforcement and medical examiners by connecting two major federal missing persons and unidentified remains databases- the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the NamUs. Connecting these databases makes them more comprehensive and more likely to lead to a match between a missing person and unidentified human remains.
“Billy’s Law” also creates incentive grants programs to coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to help facilitate the reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains to the federal databases. Grants can also be used for training programs on how to correctly use the databases and best handle these cases, and the recipients of these grants must provide a dollar in matching funds for every two dollars in federal funds.
“Billy’s Law” builds upon Connecticut’s 2007 Law Enforcement and Missing Persons law as it also calls for the issuance of broad recommendations for standards and procedures for law enforcement to follow in dealing with missing persons and unidentified remains.
As it stands, it was about the money with “naysayer” former US Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, saying that 10 million to be shared among 17,000 police departments was “too expensive” such that it was lowered to 8 million. And now, with a new Congress, the bill must be re-introduced as HR 1300 and SR 702.
Co-sponsors are needed in nearly every state (except Connecticut) The link below provides templates, sample letters, data and information with which to arm yourself. Don’t take no for an answer… Be persistent!
Jan also suggests sending a personal letter to your US Federal Congressperson with a follow-up phone call to their judicial staff person…and perhaps a face to face meeting
160,000 people missing currently in the US inclusive of adults and children. 60,000 unidentified remains are stagnating within medical examiners offices! Matches are currently being made manually with NamUS, the only centralized data base and NCIC (The National Crime Information Center [Federally Regulated System] can “talk to each other” with “a million eyes monitoring” as reported by Jan. Each state also has clearinghouses. However, as in Connecticut, they frequently don’t connect and it becomes a jurisdictional and political fight as to whose case it is…
The Human Toll:
Jan has a daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who support her and her husband’s continuing efforts to find Billy… while she intellectually and emotionally knows that many others “in the land of the living” love her. But it is tough to divide your time and your heart to all things and all people who need it. A strong faith in God prevails, a positive attitude with undying hope coursing through her veins….
However, the grieving process never stops, nor does the fulfilling nature of helping other victims. Pleasurable activities she once enjoyed, such as mall shopping conjured up immense guilt. So… she sat in the mall parking lot and stared at the entrance…. Until the Christmas holidays “gave her permission” one year! It took Jan three months to enter that mall. She says it’s a roller coaster effect, “like Weebles”. You may be more wobbly today as compared to yesterday and need to reach out to others. It is NOT time to MOVE ON” when your child, whether a small child or your adult child is missing! people working
No one can anticipate the need when we first enter this journey… lost time from work, posters, billboards, media help, the cost of transportation, the need to re-mortgage your house to carry on…. The general public has no idea what it takes….
Evidence lost…. Local official’s not paying attention, wasting valuable time, incompetence, lack of communication, incredible delays, attempts to sabotage efforts time and again when placing missing posters, Jan’s arrest, a relationship that left Billy unprepared and vulnerable to forces he couldn’t anticipate, political pressures, a ridiculous law suit by mean-spirited people, lies, and more lies in a civil suit….. It’s all there, like some bad B movie. The Waterbury Observer has done a good job reporting such events over time. .
Read it … not to wallow in the craziness… ‘Just to know what the Smolinski’s have endured! AND… keep the focus on finding Billy!
As Jan said on “Shattered Lives,” it takes a village of people working together!
- Identifying the unknown dead: New system cross-checks missing person cases with unidentified bodies (knoxnews.com)
- State Police Revamping Missing Persons Unit (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
- Georgia teen joins missing people across the country (examiner.com)
- The Price of a Life? (vanished!)
- Shattered Lives with Donna R. Gore: Janice Smolinski, My Son is Missing (donnagore.com)