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The Decker-Backmann Act: Florida Lawmakers Spearheading Cold Case Reform for Grieving Families

The Decker-Backmann Act: Florida Lawmakers Spearheading Cold Case Reform for Grieving Families
Source: Florida Politics

Florida lawmakers are championing The Decker-Backmann Act, aiming to pass it into state law come July. The proposed legislation is deeply rooted in the stories of Marilyn Decker and Clifford “Cliff” Bachmann, both victims of heinous crimes that remain unsolved. Bachmann was fatally shot during a 2009 robbery at a Jacksonville construction site, while Decker’s life was brutally taken in 1987 through a vicious attack that led to her body being found in a Davie canal.

Families Seek Answers and Advocate Reform

Despite the passage of time, the families of Decker and Backmann, represented by Gail Demore and Ryan Backmann, continue to push for justice and advocate for a more effective system. Demore, sister of Marilyn Decker, and Ryan Backmann, founder of Project: Cold Case and a former Compassionate Families employee, have been tireless in their pursuit of answers.

The Decker-Backmann Act: Florida Lawmakers Spearheading Cold Case Reform for Grieving Families

Source: Firstcoast news

Ryan Backmann, reflecting on his own experiences, emphasized the importance of not allowing the families of unsolved cases to feel forgotten. He acknowledged the tedious but crucial task of reopening cold cases, stressing the need to go through every detail to bring closure to grieving families.

The Decker-Backmann Act’s Key Provisions

Florida Senator Rosalind Osgood and Representative Christopher Benjamin introduced State Bill 350: Cold Case Murders and House Bill 837: Cold Case Murders, respectively. The legislation proposes a mechanism for reinvestigation requests of unsolved murders since January 1, 1970, with a 5-year waiting period unless significant evidence emerges. The bill envisions the establishment of cold case units across the state, enhanced protocols for evidence storage, and mandates agencies to keep victims’ families informed throughout the process.

Furthermore, The Decker-Backmann Act emphasizes training and data reporting requirements to the Global Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University. Forensic anthropologist-trained crime scene investigator Bertha Hurtado, working with the Davie Police Department, explained that in cases where agencies lack the manpower or financial backing, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) would step in to shoulder the responsibility.

Unanimous Support from Committee Members

The proposed legislation has garnered unanimous support from the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee members. Before the vote, Senator Osgood revealed that Davie detectives working on Decker’s case actively lobbied for the bill’s endorsement. Currently, both bills are under review by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice and the House’s Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

The Decker-Backmann Act: Florida Lawmakers Spearheading Cold Case Reform for Grieving Families

Source: Cold Case Advocacy

Meanwhile, in Davie, Gail Demore pins her hopes on DNA evidence to crack the case, while in Jacksonville, Ryan Backmann remains optimistic that a tip or advancements in technology will finally unveil the identity of his father’s killer. The Decker-Backmann Act stands as a beacon of hope for grieving families, signaling a potential turning point in the pursuit of justice for victims of cold cases in the state of Florida.

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