CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — After sitting in storage, some as long as 10 years, nearly 100 rape kits left the Chesapeake Police Department’s Property and Evidence building on Wednesday.
“These 90 cases have been in our possession since about 2007, cumulatively, and they’re not part of active investigations, but they’re being tested to see what additional evidence they may uncover,” says Chief K.L. Wright.
It’s part of a $3.4 million project from Attorney General Mark Herring, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, and local law enforcement to test nearly 2,000 kits.
“Making sure that every single one is tested is so important because sexual assault, sexual violence, is very often a serial crime. Rarely does a perpetrator commit an act of sexual violence only one time,” Herring says.
Once results are in, they’ll be entered into a national database. There are several different reasons why the kits were not tested before, Herring says.
“They weren’t part of an active criminal investigation. There may have been a guilty plea or the victim did not want to move forward at that particular time, but that doesn’t mean the kits shouldn’t be tested, and because of a law that we helped get passed, every single kit going forward is going to be tested,” he says.
The kits will go to a lab in Northern Virginia and the results are expected to take a few months. DNA testing of the rape kit backlog recently led to 44 “hits” across Virginia Beach and Fairfax County.
Herring says survivors will be notified in a sensitive way, to avoid revictimization.