CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland police have eliminated a backlog of untested sexual assault evidence and sent the last of nearly 4,000 rape kits to a state crime lab, though it could take another year before the testing is complete.
More than half those kits have been tested for DNA that can be compared with profiles in a law enforcement database, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Wednesday. That effort and investigations by a related task force have led to almost 170 indictments, including one man linked to multiple rapes and a murder.
“For years, unknown offenders could take comfort in victims not being able to identify them and any resulting investigations being closed because there were no other leads to pursue,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a recent letter to the mayor. “Those days are now over.”
Authorities began the effort in 2009 to catalog and test kits that weren’t previously tested because of earlier policies and limits on what evidence the state lab would process. Some of the evidence dated to 1993.
Every Cleveland rape kit from 1993 to 2000 should be tested by the end of August, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brian McDonough told the newspaper. Testing remaining kits from the following decade could then take a year.
At that pace, McDonough said related investigations and indictments probably will continue for several years.
The cases could remain in the court system even longer because the people indicted are “John Doe” or unidentified suspects whose cases stay open until the defendants are identified, sometimes as the result of a DNA match if they are arrested for a different crime.
Since 2010, evidence from newly reported rapes has been tested at a county crime lab.
Information from: The Plain Dealer,