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Politics & Government

$4 million to help Wayne County deal with backlog in testing rape kits

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta

A $4 million donation from the state could help cut in half a backlog of untested rape kits in Detroit.

There are eight or nine thousand rape kits remaining of those that were left behind and untested when the city of Detroit police lab closed three years ago.

Some of the cases are 25 years old.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says it’s unacceptable that some of these crimes have gone decades without being solved.

“Twice, women were violated – once by the rape, and then second, that justice was put in a box, put on a shelf,” said Schuette.

The funds will come from money won in lawsuits by the state.

Tests on a few hundred kits have already turned up suspects living all across Michigan and half a dozen other states.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says the consequences can be dire. She says a DNA test on one of the rape kits turned up a murderer serving life in prison.

”We prosecuted Shelly Brooks for being a serial rapist and murderer of seven women – after the rape kit from the rape victim was sitting on the shelf. So, had that rape kit been analyzed at the proper time, if it had not been forgotten on a shelf, perhaps these women would still be alive.”

Governor Rick Snyder says it’s critical to get as many of these cases solved as possible.

“It’s the right thing to do because there are people that have been victims that deserve justice. It’s right for our criminal justice because there are bad people out there that should be put away.”

Tests on a fraction of the rape kits have turned up suspects living all across Michigan and in half a dozen other states. The $4 million could come close to cutting the backlog in half, depending on the complexity of the cases.

The Michigan State Police is primarily responsible for processing the kits after the city of Detroit crime lab closed in 2009.

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