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Murder of Jessica Lunsford, Sex offender monitoring and Changing laws

Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2022
Jessica Lunsford, 9, was abducted from her home in Homosassa, Florida, on the 24th of February 2005. Her father, Mark Lunsford, noticed that she was not in her bedroom nor the house. A nationwide missing children's alert was issues and the search for little Jessie was on. Her family was automatically assuming something sinister had happened since the little girl was not one to run away or leave on her own.

Three weeks later, the police named a person of interest who had fled the state two weeks prior. He was acquainted with Jessie and had ties to the local area. And he was a registered sexual offender. The police announced that if this person did not come back within 48 hours, he would be named publicly. And of course, he did not come forward.

Police release his name and photo to the public then. John Couey (46) lived two miles north of Jessie's family's home and often stayed with his half-sister who was within eyesight of the Lunsford home. Two days after they released his information, he was apprehended in Georgia. Couey was a career criminal that had been arrested 24 times in a 30-year period. His crimes ranged from burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, disorderly intoxication and driving under the influence to indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, fraud, insufficient funds and larceny. He had spent time in prison and had his driver's license suspended for 99 years, but as his drug addiction to crack cocaine became more extreme, his crimes escalated into sexually assaulting two young children.

The day after his apprehension, Couey admitted he had knowledge of what happened to Jessie and admitted to burying her alive in the backyard of his half-sister's house - just three days after the police questioned the family if they knew anything of her disappearance. In fact, at the time the police started their investigation, Jessie was hidden IN THE HOME she was ultimately murdered in. The half-sister and family had no idea. Couey was in the back yard the entire time police questioned the family. If the police would have just done a search of the home, or talked to Couey who was in the back yard while starting their investigation, they would have been aware that there was a registered offender living in the household and flags would have been thrown, possibly resulting in a home search and saving little Jessie's life.

Couey was charged with the sexual assault and murder of Jessica Lansford, but died in prison due to cancer before his death sentence would have been finished out.

This case happened in 2005 - the sex offender registry was still new and not too heard of. How did this man get away without registering his address that he stayed at so often? Why was the Lunsford family not aware that there was an offender living next door? Why did the police not know that he resided there when they did their initial search? Would this knowledge have saved her life?

Since all these questions lie unknown, Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, has made it his life mission to pass Jessica's law in all 50 states. Some states are for it, while others are leaning away from it.

What is Jessica's Law?
The Jessica Lunsford Act, aka. Jessica's Law:
1.) Increase the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory least 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring.
2.) The increase, from 20 to 30 years, the period before a sexual predator allowed petitioning to have the sexual predator designation removed.
3.) Increase sexual predator/offender registration and reporting requirements.
4.) Sexual predators who murder their victims now qualify for the death penalty in capital cases.
5.) Failing to re-register as a sexual offender/predator, harboring, or assisting a sexual predator/offender is a third-degree felony.
6.) Require those already convicted of sex crimes to have electronic monitoring for the rest of their probation
7.) Require all county misdemeanor probation officials to search the sexual offender registry when a new offender is assigned to them.

Who is in support of this law, and who is opposed? For a detailed map, please visit https://jessicaslawnow.wordpress.com/about-jessicas-law/ States that do not have ANY version of Jessica's Law : VT, NJ, IL, CO, ID, HI States taht have a partial version of Jessica's Law : ME, NH, MA, NY, PA, MN, SD, WA, KS, NM, TX All other states have a good version of Jessica's Law. How can I help change the laws? Communicate with your local law makers and politicians on how this law effects you and can help change the community! Write letters and make phone calls!

Resources: Jessica's Law Now
Case Information
Podcast (detailed, listener beware)
Law Information from Wikipedia