JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local mother is working to change public record laws to help grieving families deal with the loss of a loved one. She’s started a petition to get belongings of lost loved ones sooner and plans on taking it straight to lawmakers.
“It drains your soul, your mind; I mean you just be sick,” said Patricia Ward.
Ward is still tormented by her 16-year-old son’s death.
Seventeen years ago her son, Curtis Williamson, drowned in California.
Ward felt there was something suspicious about his death and began requesting documents from investigators working the case.
She said she ran into a lot of obstacles and that made it hard for her to get any closure.
“Just a phone call is not enough. You telling me on the phone, ‘Oh we are investigating, oh we don’t know.’ That’s not enough,” Ward said.
Ward moved to Jacksonville three years ago and decided she wanted to help other mothers by creating the petition. She said she will present it to lawmakers, hoping to create what she calls a “child closure law.”
“This law forces them -- in 30 days they have to give any records, any property, any money our child may have had in his wallet,” Ward said.
In Florida, a case is not public record until it’s no longer an active investigation. Ward said for families of victims, that can be precious time lost.
“You got to start from the beginning. You got to start from the why, when and wheres. And then you get to the justice part. But if you don’t have they why, when and wheres, justice is still back here,” Ward said.
Action News law and safety expert Dale Carson said if you want to build your own case, you can hire a private investigator.
Update: The "Child Closure Law" was changed to the "Curtis Law" in July 2015.