March 9, 2021

Austin, Texas — Responding to a tragic murder spree in senior living facilities that left at least 18 seniors dead, today a bipartisan coalition of North Texas legislators announced a suite of legislative proposals designed to protect the elderly from future threats of violence and property crime.

“The time it took to find and arrest the killer could have been sooner and potentially saved lives,” said Mrs. Shannon Dion, President of Secure Our Senior’s Safety (SOSS). “The problem was security, accountability, and transparency from the operators of the homes who knew something was wrong. They delayed informing residents, family, or police about what they knew,” Mrs. Dion added.

The bills use proven policy tools to give Texans greater peace of mind when settling their loved ones in senior living facilities:

SB 1133 by Sen. Johnson & HB 3144 by Rep. Patterson establish a voluntary safety certification program for senior living facilities to encourage safe practices and better inform seniors looking for housing.

SB 1132 by Sen. Johnson & HB 3123 by Rep. John Turner increase enforcement of existing state laws on cash-for-gold shops meant to prevent the fencing of stolen jewelry.

SB 864 by Sen. Paxton & HB 723 by Rep. Patterson ensure that the next-of-kin is notified when the cause-of-death on a death certificate is amended.

HB 3095 by Rep. Julie Johnson holds senior living facilities liable for endangering residents through severe negligence.

“We can and must ensure that senior living facilities are properly incentivized to protect our elderly and vulnerable loved ones,” said Senator Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas). “The voluntary state certification we propose will give a market advantage to facilities that improve safety. Required changes in communications with residents, families, and law enforcement will prevent crime from going undetected.” He continued, “and revised reporting requirements will force cash-for-gold shops to abide by the law or lose the right to do business in Texas. It is my hope that this suite of bills, offered in honor of the many victims of these preventable murders, will prevent future crimes and save other families from the pain of such loss.”

“My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones in the tragic murder spree in North Texas which spurred these significant legislative proposals,” said Senator Angela Paxton (R-McKinney). “I applaud the efforts of my North Texas legislative colleague, Senator Johnson, in the filing of SB 1132 & SB 1133 aimed at improving senior safety. I am proud to author Senate Bill 864 to ensure that this tragedy leads to families receiving timely, accurate information regarding their loved ones in the future.”

“For years, a serial killer roamed the halls of some north Texas senior living facilities,” said Representative Jared Patterson (R-Frisco). “The horrific killings of elderly residents have devastated many families and compromised the trust our community once had in some of these businesses. I am grateful for this bipartisan team of legislators who have identified numerous issues resulting from these tragedies. Our commitment is to ensuring the State of Texas does our part to protect seniors moving forward, providing much-needed peace of mind to both future residents and their families.”

“Some of the most vulnerable constituents we serve are our senior citizens,” said Representative Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton). “It is incumbent of elected officials to have measures and protocols in place for their safety and protection. When the Metroplex experienced the recent tragic murder of 20 senior community members, immediate action was called for. This package of bills provides a pathway to ensuring that this does not happen again. I am proud to stand with my colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, to protect our seniors.”