Missouri Attorney General Announces More Law Enforcement Agencies Cleared Backlog of Rape Kits

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KY3) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that 169 law enforcement agencies have cleared backlogs of untested and reported sexual assault kits.

A total of 3,298 kits reported untested were sent to the lab for testing. Additionally, due to the hard work of SAFE Kit Initiative State Coordinator Judge M. Keithley Williams and her team, there are currently three pending lawsuits that are a direct result of the CODIS results of the kits that have been tested as part of the SAFE Kit initiative.

“A little over three years ago, I started the SAFE Kit initiative with the ultimate goal of clearing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Through years of hard and diligent work by Judge Mr. Keithley Williams and his team, we have made incredible progress towards this goal.Today I am pleased to report that 169 law enforcement agencies have completely cleared their backlog of kits. untested and reported sexual assault cases. Additionally, there are three active prosecutions that are a direct result of CODIS results due to the kits being tested as part of the SAFE Kit initiative. Not only is this an incredible milestone, but I hope this sends the message to victims across Missouri that I take this incredibly, personally seriously and that my office will continue its hard work to honor the sacrifice, bravery and courage it takes to submit to a sexual assault kit,” said D Attorney General Schmitt.

Using a 2018 federal grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s SAKI program and a $2.6 million appropriation from the Missouri State Legislature, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office sent 3,298 untested sexual assault kits reported to the lab for testing, meeting the conditions of both the federal grant and state legislature appropriation. Additionally, as part of the second round of BJA SAKI program grants, the Office is currently conducting an updated inventory that covers backlog kits from 1998 to April 2020. All current sexual assault kits are being processed as normal by the State of Missouri. Highway Patrol Crime Lab, St. Louis City Crime Lab, St. Louis County Crime Lab, St. Charles County Crime Lab, and the Kansas City Police Department Crime Lab. Of the 3,298 untested and reported sexual assault kits sent to four private labs for testing, 1,312 were tested and returned.

“Although this is a major achievement, there is still work to be done. My office has worked with the Missouri State Highway Patrol to send referrals to prosecutors when CODIS hits are encountered and will continue to do so. I have offered the expertise and staff of my Office to assist in the three lawsuits currently underway, and we will continue to make these referrals and seek justice where possible.

Here is a breakdown of the results of these kits that have been tested and returned:

  • 500 were deemed eligible for CODIS download. This means there is a strong enough DNA profile to upload to CODIS. Of the 500 that were deemed eligible for CODIS download, there were 201 CODIS hits, a success rate of approximately 40%.
  • 353 were deemed ineligible for CODIS download. This is because either the DNA profiles are associated with the victim or consensual partners, or the DNA profile is returned with inconclusive results that do not meet Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) eligibility standards for CODIS downloads.
  • 459 were found to be “negative”, meaning no DNA was found.

CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, is the FBI’s database for DNA profiles of criminal offenders. When DNA profiles are uploaded to CODIS, the system tracks ‘hits’, looking to see if that DNA profile matches that of a former offender who has already been uploaded into the system. Due to the CODIS findings, three prosecutions are ongoing. They are the following:

  • Independence (2216-CR01205): Following a CODIS hit, a 2015 rape suspect was arrested in mid-March and charged. The Independence Police Department was the arresting agency.
  • St. Joseph (21BU-CR01471): Following a CODIS hit and subsequent interview with the victim, the suspect in the rape of an 18-year-old girl in St. Joseph was arrested in February 2022 and charged . The St. Joseph Police Department was the arresting agency.
  • Boone County (21BA-CR04897-01): Following a CODIS hit, the suspect who was previously charged in Warrensburg with statutory rape and sodomy has also been charged in Boone County with an additional rape. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office was the arresting agency.

The Attorney General’s office held 67 shipping events across the state to send these untested and flagged kits to the lab for testing. Expedition events began in 2019 – the first was at the Springfield Police Department. Here is a breakdown of the 169 police departments and sheriff’s offices that have no untested and reported sexual assault kits in their inventory:

  • Northwest Missouri: 16
  • Northeastern Missouri: 19
  • Southwestern Missouri: 74
  • Southeast Missouri: 48
  • St. Louis metropolitan area: 6
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Area: 6

The bureau worked with the MSHP’s Missouri Information Analysis Center and local prosecutors to continue to make referrals following a CODIS hit. To ensure that a backlog does not happen again, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office has proposed several proactive measures that have already been accomplished, including creating a central repository for untested and untested sexual assault kits. reported and the design of a kit tracking website. More than 2,000 untested and unreported kits have already been delivered to the central repository, and the attorney general’s office is working to train law enforcement, hospital staff, victim advocates and others to the use of the tracking system that has been developed.

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