Just over a year ago, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began to test old rape kits. Now, the Ohio Attorney General says they're identifying far more rapists than he expected.
When a woman goes to a hospital after she's been raped, investigators use a special kit to collect evidence. That evidence goes back to police departments, where it is supposed to be tested.
But for decades, thousands of such kits sat on shelves in police departments collecting dust. Many departments didn't have the staff or crime lab scientists to do the testing.
Last year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hired four scientists as a special unit to test the old kits, and he called on police departments all over the state to send those kits to B.C.I. He said they have examined more than 1,600 so far.
"I had no idea we would end up getting what we're getting," said DeWine.
DeWine had hoped that one out of ten tests would be able to match names of known criminals with the evidence. He said the actual results were stunning.
"One out of three of these that we test, we get a hit. So, we're going back to police departments and we're saying to them ‘Hey, that 15-year-old case? We've got your rapist,'” explained the AG.
In some cases, he said, forensic scientists found that a man under suspicion by police was actually innocent. And in a handful of instances, they found serial rapists.
"I think we have one (suspect) that has six rapes. Now think about that, that means six that we've found, six that have been reported where we've got the DNA match. Who knows how many were actually committed?" DeWine said.
That perpetrator has not been identified because his DNA has not been entered in a national criminal DNA database, which contains information on 11 million people.
DeWine said that another unit tests current rape case kits, so they won't be lost in the push to test the old ones.
DeWine is now hiring six more scientists to examine old rape kits, and he predicted even more criminals soon will be identified and brought to justice.
"We're moving, and we're really kicking into high gear this month.”
DeWine said that Franklin County submitted only four old cases in the past year, and BCI has gotten matches in two of them. Cleveland, on the other hand, sent 4,000 old kits for testing.
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