Bill would grant access to investigation records in cold-case missing-person cases

Linwood high school senior Randy Leach vanished from a graduation party in 1988. His parents, Harold and Alberta Leach, are pictured in November 2014.

? A Kansas Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would give the public more access to investigation records from the cold-case files of missing-person reports that are more than 25 years old.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who is pushing for the legislation, said it was prompted by the case of Randy Leach, an 18-year-old man who disappeared from his Linwood home in 1988 and has not been heard from since.

Leach’s parents, Harold and Alberta Leach, told the Journal-World in 2014 that they don’t believe law enforcement officials conducted a thorough investigation or followed up on particular leads.

But they have not been able to see any records of the search because investigative records are generally exempt from the Kansas Open Records Act.

“The bill was written very narrowly. We’re saying only investigations of missing persons older than 25 years,” Holland said. “We’re not trying to throw investigative records open to the public willy-nilly.”

Senate Bill 200 would remove the current open records exemption for missing persons cases that are more than 25 years old, but only for records in such cases that are at least 15 years old.

Holland said there is another bill dealing with the open records law that seeks to standardize the cost that agencies can charge for producing records requested by the public, and he hopes to add similar language to his bill to make it consistent.

Holland said the bill would be heard Wednesday in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which meets at 10:30 a.m.