The Seattle Police Department had submitted just 22 percent – roughly one out of every five kits collected over the past decade-leaving more than 1,200 collecting dust in the evidence room.
Jackson police started the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program with West Tennessee Healthcare, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program (WRAP) in 2005.
The investigation also included an opinion from Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Crime Victims Center, who said a “perceived lack of cooperation from a victim is not a valid reason to jettison forensic evidence”. About 10,000 of the 11,341 kits, some dating to 1984, have been tested or are in the process of being tested.
It set aside more than a billion dollars for testing, but so far none of those grants have been awarded. “During the ’80s, they weren’t doing DNA testing then, so that’s what we’re working towards now is to get the kits tested with the technology that we have today”.
“A lot of the assailants were known, so to the investigators, this wasn’t a mystery”, he said. That includes 2,624 pieces of evidence in cases still within the statute of limitations and 918 others that are not.
That’s not necessarily something a lab technician can do. In 13 other cases since 1998, the records state there was “no suspect” or “no known suspect”.
“DNA testing was definitely the thing that brought him down”, Fields said.
Despite the power of the CODIS database to help identify attackers, some local law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices have had mismatched policies in dealing with rape kits. Detroit kits make up the majority of those awaiting testing.
“That’s a pretty low number”, he said.
Worthy said ensuring that rape kits are tested in a timely manner is necessary to prevent another massive backlog from happening again. Madison County was listed as 12th in the state for the number of untested kits, with a total of 36.
Lt. John Michalke of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said numerous cities in the county have their own police agencies that independently submit rape kits for analysis to the Michigan State Police.
“This agency documents, in the investigative report, if the kit was sent for testing”.
“All the cases that we had that could have been sent to the lab, have been”, said Curran of Virginia Beach rape kits. With Wilson’s information in a database, it gave Daytona Beach law enforcement a chance to put a face on their suspect, Moore said.
“I think all kits should be tested as long as there’s a criminal report made”, Dunlap said. He says kits in Anoka County are always tested in cases where the suspect is unknown or there’s a question about what happened.
In a December 2014 letter to Cornyn, responding to an inquiry about why DOJ had not complied with the SAFER Act, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said devolving the protocols required by the law “has presented many challenges”, but indicated no plans to comply with the law in the future. All kits submitted to these laboratories are tested.
Banner said backlogs like what was seen in Detroit are atypical in the state.
“We’re the assisting agency”, Holt said.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Office determined that from 2000 to 2014, it had about 500 cases involving sexual-assault kits, but said it was unclear how many had been tested. Days later, finger prints lead them to her rapist.
To victim advocates, the high number of kits held by Jackson police is not a negative. But each lab’s operational costs are paid for by ISP, he noted.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation from June found the state’s largest hospital was complicit in the failure to analyze rape kits.
If Melohn’s division doesn’t get the federal grant, she wants to pay for the audit from the agency’s budget.
Two forensic science students from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis are completing a summer internship with ISP, contacting each agency in the state to collect information about the kits in their evidence rooms.
Efforts to mandate testing statewide have failed. A Metro police spokeswoman said last week that all kits in Nashville have been sent for testing.
Detectives could determine that the sexual contact was consensual, or the prosecutor could decline to file charges, Fotia added. “Those kits are processed and entered into CODIS”, said Dektas.