Untested Rape Kits Not From the Ohio Valley

Local police and sheriff’s departments are not among those Ohio law enforcement agencies that recently sent more than 2,400 untested rape kits to a state crime lab to be examined.

After learning in December 2011 that many untested rape kits were sitting on shelves in evidence rooms, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine urged the state’s law enforcement to pass them on for analysis. Since then, Bureau of Criminal Investigation labs have received 2,430 kits from 52 departments.

No law enforcement agencies from Jefferson, Belmont, Harrison or Monroe counties had submitted untested rape kits, however, according to statistics provided by DeWine’s office last week.

Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said his department has two rape kits in evidence from the 1990s. Both of those kits, however, were promptly sent to a state lab and analyzed when the crimes were initially reported, he noted.

“Whenever we’ve had a rape case, we always forwarded the (rape kit) to the BCI lab for work to be done,” McFarland said. “Once we were notified again (in 2011), we sent those back to BCI.”

Toronto Police Chief Randy Henry noted that many rape investigations are launched at the hospital, where investigators first meet with victims following the crime. Rape kits are performed there, he said, and quickly passed on to the BCI lab in Youngstown.

Monroe County Sheriff Charles Black also said there are no untested rape kits in his department’s evidence room.

The analysis of that evidence is something the department traditionally has treated with urgency, he added.

“I’ve been here for 20 years and there’s not a case that I’m aware of where they haven’t been tested and sent immediately to BCI,” Black said of rape kits. “As soon as we get them, we send them to BCI.”

Nearly half of the untested kits were submitted by the Cleveland Police Department alone, while Akron and Cincinnati police each submitted about 340 untested kits. After Toledo’s 225, no other department submitted more than 60 untested kits.