Old Rape Kits in Houston Are a DNA Jackpot

After 6,663 tested, FBI's DNA database returns 850 hits
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2015 9:21 AM CST
Old Rape Kits in Houston Are a DNA Jackpot
Houston Mayor Annise Parker.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Since 2013, Houston has been going through some 6,663 rape kits that had never been tested; some were almost 30 years old. Now the effort is complete, and authorities have found 850 matches with the FBI's DNA records, the AP reports. Twenty-nine people have been charged as part of the city's $6 million effort, with six convictions; those convicted have faced sentences lasting between two and 45 years. More charges are likely to be on the way, the Houston Chronicle reports. "It's up to us to finish the job and to seek justice for these victims," says a prosecutor. "We will do our best to put the people who are responsible for these heinous crimes behind bars for as long as possible."

But the backlog's toll is clear. During the years that the kits were left untested, six of those charged are believed to have committed additional rapes, the Chronicle reports. Existing DNA records might have helped stop some repeat crimes had the testing been conducted earlier, officials say. Houston is far from the only city facing the problem: Similar efforts are underway in Memphis, Cleveland, and Detroit. "This is not a Houston problem. It's not a Texas problem. It's a nationwide issue that built up over years and years," says Mayor Annise Parker. Now Houston's crime lab is "a model for the nation," says its director. (One of the city's funding ideas for the investigation was a strip club "tax.")

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