Houston officials have made 850 DNA matches in the FBI’s nationwide database after clearing 6,600 rape kits that went untested for years, some of which were backlogged for nearly three decades.
Following the matches, charges have been filed against 29 people. Six have been convicted since the testing began in 2013.
The effort to clear the kits, a $6 million undertaking, came to an end last fall. According to Mayor Annise Parker, the results were processed through the DNA databases to compare the samples to possible suspects.
From the NY Daily News:
The six convictions resulted in sentences between two and 45 years in prison, officials said. Investigators will continue to review the 850 matches to see if more charges can be filed in other cases.
Some of the cases cannot be prosecuted because they fall outside of Texas’ statute of limitations, KPRC reported. Still, DNA evidence from a rape that cannot be prosecuted can still help detectives link suspects to other crimes. Investigators urged victims to report crimes no matter how long ago they happened.
Experts say Houston’s backlog — and similar backlogs in other U.S. cities — are due in part to the high cost of testing: A single kit’s tests can cost between $500 and $1,000. Advocates argue that the lack of testing signals that sex crimes haven’t always been law enforcement priorities.
“This is not a Houston problem. It’s not a Texas problem. It’s a nationwide issue that built up over years and years,” Parker said.
In fact, rape kits, which include physical evidence and biological samples, are a national problem. In New York alone, officials tackled 17,000 backlogged rape kits between 2000 and 2003. In Memphis, more than 12,000 kits went untested for years and in Detroit, another 11,000 were found in an abandoned police warehouse in 2009.
SOURCE: NY Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty