By EEW Magazine News
You would think that when a woman reports a rape and submits a rape kit, investigators would immediately spring into action by testing the kit to help ID the attacker. Think again. Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy has discovered that thousands of rape kits collect dust in police warehouses as rapists roam the streets—a sad and scary thought.
According to the Daily Beast, one of Worthy’s colleagues happened to stumble upon thousands of neglected rape kits in 2009. Since then, Worthy, who was outraged by such a find, has been working diligently to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and finally, entered into the national DNA database.
Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified so far. “Twenty of the 21 serial rapists were identified from the first 153 rape kits officially tested for DNA and entered into the national database known as CODIS, or the Combined DNA Index System, this summer,” reports the Daily Beast. “In other words, these 20 men had been involved in at least one other rape case, according to the database.”
“No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about till about four months in,” said Worthy, a single mother of three who began her legal career in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in 1984. It wasn’t until someone in the department leaked the story to the press that people took notice.
Though Worthy has since received a federal grant for $1 million that helped her get all the kits logged, the grant won’t cover the DNA testing of all 11,303 kits.
Worthy said, right now, she only has enough to cover tests for about 1,600 rape kits. “Unfortunately money’s not falling from the sky,” she said.
More money is needed, particularly in the face of outcomes such as this one the Daily Beast is reporting.
A convicted rapist named Shelly Andre Brooks had raped and murdered five women after raping a woman whose kit was just recently entered into the database through Worthy’s initiative. If that rape kit had been tested and entered into the database sooner, the man could have been caught sooner—and five women’s lives could have been saved. “That’s why it’s so horrible, this whole thing,” Worthy said.
30 years ago, Worthy was herself a victim of rape when she was a law-school student at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. She was attacked from behind while jogging around her apartment complex one evening, but didn’t report the rape.
Now she is seeking justice for those who have reported their rapes, but have seen no progress in their cases.
Sadly, the rape kit pileup isn’t just a problem in Detroit.
Sarah Tofte who works with the Human Rights Watch said cities across the country have reported heaps of kits—11,000 in San Antonio, 1,200 in Albuquerque, 4,000 in Houston.
We can’t even quantify how many rapists are roaming the streets because of failure to thoroughly investigate the ones reported.
Read more about Kym Worthy’s investigation here.