Testing of Rape Kits Results in the Identification of Over 70 Suspects in Columbus

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Testing of Rape Kits Results in the Identification of Over 70 Suspects in Columbus
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It’s been four years since the initiative was launched to DNA test the thousands of rape kits lying forgotten in evidence rooms across Ohio. Of the nearly 14,000 submitted, 12,000 kits have completed testing, leading to 4,367 hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

For Columbus, the numbers are a little less dramatic. At the start of the Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative, Columbus police submitted 482 kits to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). Roughly 60 of those had never been tested, but most were previously tested using older, less reliable technology, said Sgt. Terry McConnell of the department’s sexual assault unit.

“Way back in the day they used to test, and they might find that there was semen present, but it would take such a large amount to determine a match could be made with CODIS,” McConnell said. “With today’s standards, it takes much less trace evidence to be able to develop a profile from it. Things that they may not have been able to enter into CODIS before, they could now by retesting it.”

Taking advantage of the free-of-charge testing BCI was offering as part of the initiative, Columbus police sent in their kits. The 60 or so that were untested McConnell said involved certain circumstances — victims recanting their stories or pathologists taking samples as part of a routine autopsy of a homicide victim.

Photo still via video from the Ohio Attorney General.

Photo still via video from the Ohio Attorney General.

As of January 3, 295 of Columbus police’s 482 kits have been tested, resulting in the identification of over 70 suspects.

“I want to say that we’ve arrested nine of them,” McConnell said. “The rest of them have been indicted, or they were already in prison for other things.”

It’s the product of several moves made statewide and locally to address the issue of untested rape kits. While Attorney General mike DeWine first launched the SAK Testing Initiative in 2011, Columbus police started their own Cold Case Initiative in 2013, retesting kits dating as far back as 1993, hoping to find the suspects before the statute of limitations expired. In 2015, the suggestion for Ohio police departments to send their kits in for testing became a mandate with the passing of Senate Bill 316. It required old rape kits be submitted to a crime lab for testing within a year, as well as new rape kits be submitted within 30 days after it’s determined a crime was committed.

Out of the 13,931 rape kits sent in for testing, 4,601 were submitted after the law was passed in 2015. So far the initiative has led to 4,367 hits statewide.

For more information, visit http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Law-Enforcement/Bureau-of-Criminal-Investigation

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