Thousands of Rape Kits Remain Untested in Memphis

The Memphis Police Department’s (MPD) latest update on the city’s rape kit backlog revealed that more than 6,300 kits still await laboratory testing. 

The information was provided during city council’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee meeting Tuesday. According to law enforcement, by the end of December 2014, there were still 6,340 untested rape kits. 

The latest rape kit backlog numbers are below:

• 12,374 total rape kits discovered untested
• 6,340 kits untested
• 2,075 kits at forensic laboratories 
• 1,142 processed for at least serology
• 1,771 negative for serology
• 1,046 processed for DNA
• 281 investigations have been initiated
• 105 investigations remain active
• 176 investigations have been closed
• 21 individuals were identified that had been previously convicted of the crime
• 52 indictments have been issued against persons or DNA profiles
• 19 named suspects
• 33 John Does (2 suspects on one case)
• 22 victims/suspects are deceased
• 30 victims declined to participate in an investigation
• 2 victims were unable to be located by law enforcement
• 28 cases were past the statute of limitations
• 19 cases boasted insufficient/degraded DNA
• 3 cases investigated did not meet the statute definitions of a crime

Although the aforementioned numbers highlight kit testing up to December 2014, numbers for January are available. According to the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce, 4,892 kits have been analyzed or are at the lab awaiting analysis. Another 7,482 are awaiting shipment to laboratories for analysis.

The status of funding for rape kit testing was provided during the meeting. It’s estimated to cost more than $6.5 million to test all of the city’s backlogged rape kits.

Thus far, the city has reportedly allocated $4.25 million and the state has provided $1 million toward kit testing. This leaves a funding gap of $512,855, according to the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce. The gap must be closed before the city can access a $750,000 challenge grant that was awarded by Plough Foundation last May.

Additional funding for kit testing has come in the form of individual donations. More than $12,000 has been collectively donated to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ Sexual Assault Resource Fund. 

During the meeting Tuesday, an update on the MPD’s forthcoming DNA evidence storage room was also provided. The facility, which will be located in the old International Harvester building, is projected to be completed late May.

By Louis Goggans

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