AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Do you need to get information on a sexual assault cold case at APD? You can call 512-974-5555 or email email@example.com. If you or someone you know is a sexual assault survivor, there are SAFE services available to help.
Call: (512)267-7233 Text: (737) 888-7233 Chat: safeaustin.org/chat
The Austin Police Department is making good on their word to tackle their rape kit backlog.
Some cases may soon be reopened after many of the previously untested kits returned from labs with enough DNA to move forward. “We do take these cases and these investigations very seriously and our investigators are working hard to solve these cases,” said Assistant Chief Ely Reyes with the Austin Police Department.
According to Assistant Chief Reyes, 2,665 rape kits from the more than 4,000 backlog are back from the lab with 35% of them having enough DNA to potentially move forward. “If the DNA could affect the case then it is reassigned to an investigator to follow up,” said Reyes.
After APD’s DNA lab shutdown in 2016, a backlog was formed and the department needed to outsource testing of these kits to labs across the us. “We have no kits right now that are back log that means no kits that are 30 days’ old that have not been submitted for testing,” said Reyes.
While some are coming back with enough DNA findings, the work in solving the case is far from over.
The department has two routes they can take. “If we have a comparative suspect that we can compare that DNA to and get a 1 to 1 match. The other is to enter it into the CODIS data base to see if there are any matches in that data base,” said Reyes. CODIS is a federal database where DNA, like from sexual assault cases, are kept to help link crimes together.
While there is still more work to be done, local advocacy groups like “Stop Abuse for Everyone,” who help survivors of sexual assault, said it's a step in the right direction. “For us it's exciting to see progress as far as the DNA testing it's important for survivors to know the community is going to respond when they report a sexual assault it's important for us advocates to know the community is taking it seriously,” said Juliana Gonzales the senior director of sexual assault services at SAFE.
In order to not get tangled in another back log, the Austin Police Department said right now they can get kits sent off within two weeks and results within 60 days.