Wayne Co. making steady progress in testing rape kits

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Investigators continue to whittle away at a backlog of untested rape kits found in 2009 in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility.

Roughly 10,000 of the 11,341 kits, some dating to 1984, have been tested, with 2,227 DNA matches as of June 22, according to the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force. A Department of Justice study found a lack of funding and other resources, and police attitudes toward victims contributed to the backlog.

Among the matches are 456 serial rapists as of June 30, up from 326 across 32 states earlier last month, according to information on the task force released Thursday by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. There have been 20 convictions as of June 30, according to the task force.

There are 114 cases actively being investigated and 732 are awaiting investigation.

Public and private money have financed the testing of the kits. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy has sought to hire two dozen more investigators and a dozen prosecutors to handle the work. Her office also joined with the Michigan Women’s Foundation and Detroit Crime Commission to seek donations. More than $1 million has been raised. In May, local, county and state law enforcement said they were teaming up to expand the task force, which runs until 2017, investigating rape cases resulting from testing rape kits.

Remaining backlogged rape kits are expected to be completed by the fall, the task force has said.

Last month, Worthy announced a partnership with UPS to track and monitor the sexual assault kits as they move through the system in an effort to prevent testing backlogs. UPS said the technology used to monitor the kits was similar to what the company uses to track packages daily.