Survey finds 1,800 more untested rape-evidence kits

LANSING (AP) — Efforts to eliminate a backlog in rape-evidence tests and track down serial rapists have uncovered more than 1,800 additional untested rape kits at law enforcement agencies across the state, officials announced Thursday.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and state police director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said they will move forward with testing, investigation and potential prosecution. The untested kits were found following a survey started last year by Schuette’s office.

“Experience shows that testing every kit helps law enforcement solve crimes and stop serial rapists,” Schuette said in a statement.

With state funding, Michigan and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office tested more than 10,000 rape kits dating back decades that were found in Detroit in 2009. The new survey asked authorities in Michigan’s other 82 counties for the number of untested kits more than a year old.

The survey was a first step toward the state covering the cost to eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits statewide. Last year’s state budget included $1.7 million to process the old evidence in Michigan counties other than Wayne County.

The cases are from before Oct. 1, 2014. According to Schuette’s office, reasons the kits weren’t tested could include that a suspect confessed, pleaded guilty or was already incarcerated. Still, Schuette and Etue said testing will help give local authorities more insight on the cases.

With forensic analysis and case support from the state police, Etue said the aim is “to solve these crimes and bring justice to the survivors.”

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