Bill brings stricter punishments for tampering with deceased bodies

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DENVER -- Punishment for tampering with a deceased body became stricter in Colorado on Thursday after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a new bill into law.

Before Thursday, the punishment was only a Class 6 felony, which is close to a misdemeanor, Republican State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg said.

Sonnenberg sponsored the bill, but the person who spearheaded it was Laura Saxton.

Saxton’s daughter, Kelsie Schelling was killed three years ago. Her body has yet to be discovered.

“I’ve had so many defeats and disappointments over the last three years that this victory is hard fought, especially as it was,” Saxton said.

Saxton fought hard to get the bill passed, along with the support of other mothers who have lost children, like Elaine Hall.

Hall’s son Dylan Redwine was killed in southwest Colorado near Durango. A portion of his remains was discovered a few years ago.

“Being in the situation we’re all in, we see the rights of the perpetrators and not necessarily the rights of victims, which is our children,” Hall said.

Saxton stood behind Hickenlooper as he signed the bill into law. She said it baffled her the law wasn’t more severe to begin with.

“These are the bodies of victims. They have to have more value than a cellphone does,” she said. “To get it from a Class 6 felony up to a Class 3 felony, which is just under murder, is where it should be."

Saxton and Hall continue to fight for justice in their children’s deaths. Both cases remain unsolved.

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