INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens gathered this morning outside the offices of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Most were wearing big smiles.
On the schedule today, a series of ceremonial signings of bills that passed through both chambers in the Statehouse and had already obtained the necessary signature from Holcomb to become law.
But to highlight and reward the work on select pieces of legislation, members of the State Senate, House and other guests were invited to an assembly-line-efficient series of recreations of those official signings.
One of ceremonial signings was for SEA 161.
The primary author and sponsor of the bill is State Senator Michael Crider (R – Greenfield). He has referred to the legislations as “Millie’s Law”.
It is named for Millie Parke, the survivor of a brutal attack in May 2021. Her ex-boyfriend tracked her down in the parking lot of a Greenfield gas station and stabbed Parke.
She survived and later the ex-boyfriend, Ronnie McClure, was arrested. Parke identified McClure as her attacker. Surveillance video at the gas station captured McClure using his car to ram Parke’s vehicle. McClure is then seen forcing his way to the Parke’s vehicle, punching, and stabbing her.
McClure would drive off with Parke’s vehicle, dumping Parke out while exiting the gas station parking lot. Parke was left on the asphalt bleeding out. One of the stab wounds punctured her heart.
It was a solid case for Hancock County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Aimee Herring.
Except Herring felt one piece of evidence was missing.
“This assailant came directly to her, went direct for her car, there was no way he would have known where she was unless he’d been tracking her,” said Herring.
Investigators examining Parke’s car initially found nothing unusual that would explain how McClure knew where Parke was.
Herring was insistent, “It’s there. Keep looking. It’s there. Keep looking.”
Back to Parke’s car went the investigators and eventually, attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle, a small GPS device was found. Herring’s hunch paid off. Parke’s movements were being monitored through the device.
But there was a problem.
Herring said, “Just the act of placing the device on the car was not a crime.”
A handful of US states had prohibited the unauthorized use of tracking devices to keep track of someone. Indiana was not one of them.
FOX59 did a pair of stories about Parke’s miraculous survival of the stabbing and how there was a gap in state law allowing the unconsented planting of tracking devices.
Both stories featured Parke bravely recounting the night she was stabbed.
After the ceremonial signing of SEA 161, Crider told this reporter, “I did not have Millie’s perspective until I you did an interview with her. If you watch that you know. You can see from her body language and from her description of events how impactful that was. I don’t think you can pick that up necessarily from just newspaper reporting.”
When the 2023 legislative session began at the Statehouse, three bills were submitted to address the use of tracking devices. Crider’s bill was the one selected to move forward.
The amended bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate. It officially became law when Holcomb signed it on May 4th. It goes into effect on July 1st.
Crider was seated next to the Governor for the ceremonial signing of his bill.
Noticeably absent was Millie Parke. She was traveling and unable to attend.
But as it turns out Parke found an unexpected way to thank Governor Holcomb for his support. Both were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. Parke spotted Holcomb, introduced herself and the two had a picture taken together.
Parke is now an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and has spent weeks gathering device detectors with plans to distribute them to shelters and other agencies. She hopes they will be used to find planted tracking devices.