HPD making progress tackling thousands of rape kits left untested for years

Police say there's been significant progress tackling thousands of rape kits that went untested for years
February 11, 2014 3:55:07 PM PST
We're learning new details about the status of untested rape kits. It's a story we've been telling you about for years; rape victims left in limbo, while critical evidence sat on a shelf.

Police are now reporting there's been significant progress tackling thousands of rape kits that went untested for years. And in some cases, arrests are being made.

City council members were all ears Tuesday as Houston police updated them on the status of what some city leaders referred to as an embarrassing backlog of sex assault kits and active cases awaiting DNA testing.

"It was a tough thing to catch up, to pull off the shelf because it's been one of the eye sore that we had," said Councilman Jack Christie, At Large Position 5.

That backlog involved thousands of rape kits and DNA evidence dating back decades, some sitting on shelves since 1987. Now HPD's reporting there's been significant progress.

"Thus far, we've outsourced 9,565 cases to the vendors," said Asst. Chief M.D. Slinkard with the Houston Police Department.

Houston police revealed of the more than 9,500 rape kit and DNA cases outsourced since last year, so far, 6,170 forensic reports have been completed. Investigators say 1,268 of those tests have resulted in profiles eligible for the FBI's DNA database called Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

"I fully expect that we are going to move forward and have some new arrests out of this effort," Slinkard said.

Police say as the results roll in, they're shifting into the investigative follow-up phase in each case. So far, they say the evidence shows no false arrests were ever made in many of the cases involved in the controversy.

"It gives justice to the victims that have just wondered and hoped and prayed that there would be justice someday," said Christie.

As the testing results continue to roll in, police say one challenge they're facing is tracking down some of the victims involved in the old cases. HPD is urging victims to call Sex Assault Info Line at 713-308-1400.

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