TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A $2 million grant given to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department by the US Department of Justice in 2019 is giving very promising results, and could potentially assist in solving sexual assault cases that were left on stand-still.
In 2019, PCSD had an inventory of more than 350 boxes containing untested evidence from sexual assault cases- some even dating back to the 80s.
Now, through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), detectives have been able to find DNA on more than 200 box-kits. And out of those, 101 have yielded hits on an individual, either by name or crime.
“If you look at the numbers, 206 out of 354 is more than half of those untested kits yielding DNA. And out of those 206, thats almost half of that amount,” said Detective Robin Crehan, who works in the Adult Sex Crimes Unit at PCSD. “So a 50% success rate is very encouraging.”
Crehan says the grant has been a great help in identifying individuals in cases where there were no leads, until now. And 21 cases have been reopened at various stages of investigation.
Deputy County Attorney Victoria Otto who works in the Special Victims Unit agrees, and says it’s a huge confidence boost to both the sheriff’s department and the community.
“The sheriff’s department is taking every step that they can to follow up on these investigations, and there is no case that they’ve decided is no longer important,” she said. “Even if these cases don’t result in as many prosecutions as we like, we are working as hard as we can to do that.”
There are two years left on the SAKI grant, which is set to expire in 2022. By that time, detectives plan to perform additional testing on some kits in hopes of developing enough evidence to prosecute reopened cases.