The federal government has awarded $3 million to Kentucky to search for untested rape kits in law enforcement agencies across the state and investigate sexual assault cases.
More than 3,000 untested rape kits were discovered two years ago but officials estimate there could be more than 1,000 additional kits that weren’t accounted for in the initial tally.
Attorney General Andy Beshear said the funds will be used to test the kits and hire people to investigate cold cases.
“In a world right now where we have scarce resources on the prosecution and the investigation side, there are going to be dedicated people every day that all they do is work on these backlog cold cases,” Beshear said.
A rape kit includes hair, fingernail scrapings and biological evidence that can be tested for DNA.
A 2015 report conducted by then-State Auditor Adam Edelen showed that Kentucky had more than 3,000 untested rape kits and said Kentucky law enforcement agencies had sometimes failed to send rape kits to the state crime lab where DNA evidence could be added to the FBI’s national DNA database.
The legislature passed a law that created rules for how local law enforcement handles rape kits and increased funding for Kentucky State Police to test them.
But Beshear said some rape kits weren’t tallied because they had been sent from Kentucky State Police back to local law enforcement without ever being tested.
Laura Sudkamp, director of KSP’s crime lab, said the “boomerang cases” had been sent back because prosecution had been dropped before testing.
“We want them all back now,” Sudkamp said. “So what happens now if we work that case if it links up to six other cases that were also declined? You now have six cases with one suspect, you have a much stronger case.”
Kentucky is one of 20 recipients of the Justice Department grant.