Thousands of rapists in Ohio remain free while key evidence sits on shelves

22 rape suspects identified from Cleveland

CLEVELAND - A year-old program testing key evidence obtained from rape victims is just beginning to identify suspects whose DNA has been sitting on shelves in so-called "rape kits" for years.

An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation has found more than 2,000 rape kits have been turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for sophisticated testing that identify suspects whose DNA is already on file.

The program was launched a year ago by Attorney General Mike DeWine, but only now has begun to swing into full gear -- identifying 28 suspects using DNA obtained from rape victims.

Since January 2012, forensic scientists have tested 479 of 2,124 "rape kits" that were collected in the hours after an attack, but that sat for years on shelves in police departments across the state -- often because testing was too expensive.

"Nothing ever works as fast as I want it to work," DeWine said.

The DNA testing program required hiring additional forensic scientists and establishing procedures for testing, while at the same time trying to avoid creating additional backlogs of current cases.

"What I did not want to do," DeWine said," is take these back rape kits, dump them into our system without any new people -- and create an even bigger backlog for a rape that was committed five days ago when we are actively seeking to find out who that person was."

Our investigation found huge numbers of rape kits collected from police department all over Ohio. A detailed database shows 998 untested rape kits from Cleveland, 207 from Akron, 58 from Lorain and 48 from Lakewood.

Amanda Slone was a teenager when she was raped by a suspect four years ago who still has not been identified. Once honored by Ohio's legislature for her volunteer work with disabled children, Slone agreed to come forward to encourage testing on behalf of other rape victims.

A citation from Ohio's Senate honored her for "making the world a better place" -- yet her world was shattered by an unknown rapist.

"It's not fair for them to never have the person who did that to them to be punished or at least get them off the streets so they can't continue to do it to other people," said Slone.

Kara Porter is a rape crisis counselor with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and is encouraged by efforts to test rape kits.

"There could be instances where there could be someone committing serial assaults that would be found out in that case," Porter said.

Slone agrees and refuses to think of herself as a "victim."

"I'm not a victim," said Slone, "I'm a survivor."

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation estimates it can test roughly 100 rape kits a month.

Of the 28 cases that have identified suspects, 22 are from Cleveland.

Watch Chief Investigator Ron Regan's investigation tonight at 11 on NewsChannel5.

Here is the data we obtained from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, including a department-by-department breakout of how many are untested:

* To date, 417 kits have been completed with no positive screening result for semen.
* DNA testing has been completed on 62 cases that screened positive for semen.
* There have been 28 CODIS hits from the 62 positively screened cases.
* There are currently 450 cases that have been screened positive and sent forward with DNA testing pending.

 

Submitting Agency

Total

1

Akron Police Department

207

2

Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office

1

3

Austintown Police Department

1

4

Barberton Police Department

2

5

Blendon Township Police Department

1

6

Bowling Green Police Department

3

7

Brook Park Police Department

14

8

Brooklyn Police Department

1

9

Cambridge Police Department

1

10

Cincinnati P. D./Criminal Investigations

338

11

Cleveland Heights P.D.

28

12

Cleveland Metro Parks

3

13

Cleveland Police Department

998

14

Cleveland State University Police Department

1

15

Defiance Police Department

7

16

Delaware Police Department

12

17

Dublin Police Department

4

18

East Cleveland Police Dept.

1

19

Euclid Police Department

1

20

Fairview Park Police Department

3

21

Findlay P.D.

2

22

Franklin County Sheriff's Office

2

23

Fremont Police Department

14

24

Garfield Heights Police Dept.

1

25

Howland Twp Police Department

1

26

Ironton Police Department

19

27

Lakewood Police Department

48

28

Lima Police Department

19

29

Lorain Police Department

58

30

Lucas County Sheriff's Office

10

31

Lyndhurst Police Department

1

32

Marion Police Department

1

33

Mason Police Department

6

34

Miami University Police Department

18

35

Monroe Police Department

2

36

New Lexington Police Department

1

37

New Vienna Police Department

1

38

Norwalk Police Department

1

39

Oberlin Police Department

2

40

Ohio University Police Department

26

41

Pioneer Police Department

1

42

Sandusky Police Department

1

43

Shaker Heights Police Department

8

44

South Euclid Police Department

1

45

Sylvania Township Police Department

2

46

Toledo Police Department

211

47

Twinsburg Police Department

1

48

University of Toledo Police Department

1

49

Warren County Sheriff's Office

9

50

Warrensville Hts Police Dept.

1

51

Whitehall Police Department

17

52

Wilberforce University Police Department

1

53

Wooster Police Department

10

 

Grand Total

2124

 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments