District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp looks forward to solving cold cases once the governor signs Francine’s Law, a bill championed by Attorney General Mike Hunter.
House Bill 2640 unanimously passed both state chambers on April 8. If signed by Governor Kevin Stitt, the law will enable law enforcement agencies to share information about missing persons and cases with unidentified remains.
The law would give them 30 days to enter the cases into NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Oklahoma would join New Jersey, Tennessee, Michigan and Connecticut in passing such a law.
“This has been a long road,” Thorp said of the law he’s been pushing to get passed for the last year. “Once Attorney General Hunter took the lead, Francine’s Law got the attention and respect it needed to get to the governor’s desk.”
In August, Thorp assembled some legendary names in cold case investigations to present the law to Hunter. Mike Nance, a 38-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department and nationally renowned advocate for missing and exploited persons, helped draft the legislation along with Angela Berg.
Berg is a forensic anthropologist who manages the cases of unidentified victims in the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office.
Vicky Lyons, a retired special agent with the OSBI and Thorp’s part-time cold case coordinator, also helped make the case to Hunter.
“Francine Frost is the perfect example of the power of this law in her name,” Thorp noted.
Frost, a 44-year-old nurse, left for a Tulsa grocery store in 1981 and was never seen again. Her family agonized for 30 years until they made the unbelievable discovery on the NamUs website.
“How could they know that authorities had discovered Francine’s body in Muskogee County just two years after they vanished?” Thorp asked. “They needlessly suffered for 28 years, and if it weren’t for public access to NamUs, they may never have known.”
Thorp points to the District 27 website, www.da27.org, as an example of the need for Francine’s Law. Each county — Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner — has cold cases Thorp believes the new law can help solve.
“Every one of our families agonize, just like Francine Frost’s family, over the loss of their loved one every minute of every day,” Thorp said. “They deserve every bit of technology, time and expertise we can deploy to find answers so they can finally begin the healing process.”
NamUs currently shows 261 people missing in Oklahoma. Only 25 percent of Oklahoma’s missing persons are entered into NamUs.