Untested rape kits sent from Chesterfield to lab - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Untested rape kits sent from Chesterfield to lab

Source: NBC12 Source: NBC12

The rape kits from the Chesterfield Police Department are now on their way to a private lab in Northern Virginia. DNA evidence will be analyzed and entered into a national database, which already has caused positive hits in possibly identifying past perpetrators.

The Chesterfield Police Department has untested sexual assault physical evidence recovery kits, or PERKs, dating back to the early 90s. Past laws didn’t require kits to be tested if they didn’t meet a certain criteria and allowed police to destroy kits after two years.

"Statewide, some of the kits go back two decades or more. It’s a long period of time, but no matter how long it’s been, it is important to get the information to see if a crime has been committed," said Attorney General Mark Herring, who launched the $1.4 million project to test nearly 2,000 untested PERKs.

"I have spoken to survivors of sexual assault about what this means to them…those conversations have left a lasting impression on me...and even though their case may have been resolved, and the perpetrator has been charged and convicted, just knowing Virginia understands how serious a crime this is, we will be relentless in identifying other perps has helped them on their own path of recovery," said Herring.

In addition to solving past cases, the kits could help identify potential perpetrators and keep them from committing a future crime.

"It is important to look at these cases in a serial perspective and look at evidence that could, in fact, link someone to these criminal events," said Lt. Col. Brian Smith with the Chesterfield Police Department.

The DNA from the untested kits will be entered into a national database to link crimes and suspects. Already, it is working.

"There have been some hits, and we’ll see what action we're able to take to see if there was a crime committed, and we will pursue justice and make sure these perpetrators are brought to justice," said the Attorney General, in reference to untested kits that have since been brought to the lab.

In addition to catching criminals, these rape kits could also prove a suspects innocence.

The attorney general is committed to making sure a backlog like this never happens in the commonwealth again.

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