Michigan – Detroit
As officials in Detroit, Michigan are beginning to test rape kits that have been sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities—some for decades—DNA evidence has already linked to multiple possible perpetrators. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has identified 21 potential serial rapists from the first 153 kits that the crime lab tested and entered into CODIS, the national DNA database, according to news reports.
These kits are part of an initial wave of 200 kits that have been sent for testing under the National Institute of Justice’s grant to address Detroit’s backlog of over 11,000 untested rape kits. The DNA evidence in these 21 cases matched to the DNA profiles of suspected offenders involved in at least one other rape case, according to ClickOn Detroit. In some cases, the evidence matched to the DNA in up to five other cases, according to the article.
Testing a rape kit can identify a potential assailant, confirm a suspect’s contact with a victim, corroborate the victim’s account of the sexual assault and exonerate innocent defendants. And of course, testing rape kits can connect suspects to other crimes.
In addition to identifying the possible serial rapists, the DNA evidence in the batch of 153 kits has yielded More >
During a 2010 audit of the Detroit crime lab, which was shut down in 2008 due to testing irregularities, officials discovered approximately 11,000 untested rape kits in Detroit storage facilities. Following the discovery, a collaborative team of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, researchers and victim advocates came together to work toward eliminating the backlog.
With a grant from the federal government’s Office on Violence Against Women, the team created the “400 Project” to test 400 randomly selected kits from the backlog in order to determine the nature of the evidence and what kinds of cases are connected to the backlog. Among the 400 tested kits was a fourteen-year-old kit containing DNA evidence linking Antonio Jackson, now 38 years old, to the 1997 home invasion and rape of a woman at gunpoint. It is alleged that Jackson broke into the victim’s home at 3:50 a.m. on February 17, 1997, held her at gunpoint and raped her while her children slept in the same bed. He now faces charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct and home invasion and felony firearm charges.
The 400 Project is the first phase in a multi-phase approach to eliminating Detroit’s backlog. Detroit is one of two cities participating in a grant More >