On Offering State Reward Money: ‘Are Some Worth More Than Others?’

Gov. Bill Haslam offered rewards Tuesday in three separate criminal cases involving Tennessee women, including a $10,000 reward in the case of Shelbyville teacher Shelley Mook. But the announcement was bittersweet for the families of two other missing persons from Shelbyville, according to the Times-Gazette.
Bobby Smelcer, 52, went missing last November. Antonio Taylor, 21, hasn’t been seen since September 1999.
The Smelcer family has petitioned District Attorney Charles Crawford for assistance and has made dozens of calls to Haslam’s office.
“I called him the first day he was in office,” said Kristy Ray of her calls to the governor’s office. “They told me they were giving my request a ‘high priority.'” Ray is a sister of Smelcer.
“How do they determine how much a person’s life is worth?” said Karen Harris, another sister in Smelcer’s large family.
“The governor’s office called us this (Thursday) morning and said they were not going to grant a $10,000 reward for Bobby Smelcer,” Sgt. Brian Crews, a Shelbyville police detective, said. “We had put in requests for Bobby Smelcer and Antonio Taylor earlier this year. I don’t know how they choose who gets rewards and who doesn’t.”
Within days of the April 13 disappearance of nursing student Holly Bobo in Parsons this year, Haslam’s office announced a $50,000 reward.
“I am happy for the families who have received this money, but it is a hard pill to swallow for families of missing loved ones, who get less or nothing,” said Harris. “How do they determine the price of someone’s life? Are some worth more than others?
“I am appalled to think that our governor is placing different dollar amounts for different missing persons or cases. Our brother Bobby is priceless to us, regardless of the assumption of our governor that he is worthless.”
“It is good thing that [the governor] is doing that, but I feel it is unfair to my family,” said Lucille Buchanan, the grandmother of Antonio Taylor. “I feel like it’s unfair because Antonio and Bobby, they were human beings too. Just because they were not a woman, or a child, it shouldn’t matter.”
….Typically a local district attorney makes a written request of the governor’s office for reward funding.
“Whether the governor’s office receives a written request for a reward or not, these are all tough cases for communities to experience,” said press secretary David Smith. “A local district attorney would submit a letter requesting a reward, and each request is carefully reviewed by the governor and his legal counsel.”
…”He has hurt a lot of people,” says Ray of Haslam. “I did not sleep last night. I was disappointed by the man who is supposed to be taking care of us. No one person is worth more than another.”

One thought on “On Offering State Reward Money: ‘Are Some Worth More Than Others?’

  1. Alisha Cooper

    I would like help in getting reward money for my sister Christina Renee Bussell missing since Sep. 28th 2011. She has two small children who are asking about her and she needs to be found. Thank you, Sincerely

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