NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — One of the first pieces of legislation Jerrauld “Jay” Jones plans to introduce in Richmond is aimed at bringing home missing and endangered adults unharmed.
The proposed bill is merely an idea now, but it comes with timeliness after the tragic abduction and murder of Ashanti Billie in late September.
Two days after getting elected to serve Virginia’s 89th District, Jones met with Brandy and Tony Billie about creating the Ashanti Alert. The alert would inform the public of missing adults, ages 18-59, that are not covered by Amber Alerts or Senior Alerts.
Amber Alerts, for children 17 and under, and Senior Alerts, for adults 60 and over, have special requirements before they are issued. Regardless, Jones says adults who fall in between deserve a similar benefit.
“It’s a public safety issue,” said Jones. “Ashanti unfortunately has become the example of what we are trying to do. She is certainly not the only person this has happened to.”
Police in Virginia Beach waited more than 24 hours before releasing information about Billie’s disappearance on Sept. 28. The 19-year-old’s parents say more could have been done sooner to spread the word.
“We want to mobilize people quickly, but also put in place a framework for people to be on the lookout,” said Jones.
Last week, authorities arrested Eric Brian Brown and charged him with the kidnapping and murder of Billie.
The FBI says her body was found in Charlotte, N.C. about a quarter-mile from the retired Navy veteran’s childhood home.
Jones says he plan to file the Ashanti Alert legislation in the coming weeks and expects it to attract bipartisan support when the legislature convenes in January.