The much-watched Casey Anthony courtroom drama from Florida bothered a lot of people this past week, including the speaker of the Kansas House.
Aside from the not-guilty verdict, which Speaker Mike O'Neal says a lot of people didn't like, there is his discovery of two unsettling facts:
There is apparently no law in Florida holding a parent fully accountable for not reporting a child dead or missing, O'Neal said.
There is also no such law in Kansas, or in many other states.
He hopes to change that in Kansas in the next legislative session, which begins in January. The Anthony case, involving a mother who failed to report her child missing for more than a month, is not the only case on O'Neal's mind.
Not long after a jury found Anthony not guilty of murder last week, O'Neal looked up some of the many newspaper stories published in south-central Kansas in recent years about Adam Herrman, an 11-year-old from Butler County who has not been seen since 1999.
His adoptive parents did not report him missing for years. They told relatives, untruthfully, that he had been returned to state custody because of behavior problems.
"That case just breaks your heart and is unbelievable," said O'Neal, R-Hutchinson.
"The adoptive parents finally expressed regret that they didn't report him missing. And they said they were sorry. But in my view, that's not enough."
He plans to introduce legislation that will address a failure to report either a death or a disappearance of a child.
It will be tricky to write, he said. Some older children disappear voluntarily as runaways, and O'Neal wants to get the legislation written to take that into account.
But he also doesn't want another Adam Herrman case, where there are no legal consequences for a parent or guardian failing to report a child missing.
No one has been charged with Adam's possible death. No body has been found.
His adoptive parents said that Adam ran away from their Towanda home after he was spanked. They said that they didn't report him missing because they feared it would cause them to lose custody of him and their other children.
O'Neal said he won't complete writing the legislation until he and other legislators review laws, and proposed laws, from other states.
The Florida case has prompted other states to review their own lack of laws in such cases, he said.
"Casey Anthony broke new ground in brazenness," said Florida state Rep. Scott Plakon, who is sponsoring the proposal in his state. "It's very sad that we even need a law like this, but Casey Anthony just proved that we do, as unfortunate as that is."
Florida's proposal would make it a felony for a parent or other caregiver to fail to report a child under the age of 12 missing after 48 hours. It also makes it a felony to fail to report a child's death or "location of a child's corpse" to police within two hours of the death.
In Alabama, a bill would make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian or caretaker to fail to notify law enforcement authorities within an hour after the death of a child and also require parents to report a missing child within 24 hours.
In Kentucky, the proposal would make failing to report a child under 12 who has been missing for 12 hours or more punishable by one to five years in prison.
O'Neal's effort in Kansas will get some help from one state agency. Rob Siedlecki, state secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, has offered SRS staff to help O'Neal research and draft legislation.
"The vast majority of parents and loved ones rush to inform authorities if a child disappears," O'Neal said. "Allowing the death or kidnapping of a child to go unreported is unconscionable... while Kansas law does address this to some extent, our preliminary review suggests the existing Kansas laws are not strict enough in the wake of the Anthony case."