DNA evidence in more than 400 rapes and sexual assaults has gone untested even though detectives trying to solve the crimes have not identified any suspects, reports the Los Angeles Times. After an inventory of the department’s backlog of untested DNA evidence, the samples of semen, blood, and other genetic material collected from victims’ bodies in these unsolved cases will be prioritized for analysis in hopes that it will identify some of the attackers, Deputy Chief Charles L. Beck said.
Police Chief William Bratton and Beck announced the results of the backlog count completed by dozens of detectives who spent weeks in subzero storage areas combing through a poorly maintained jumble of evidence going back decades. In all, evidence from 5,123 rapes and sexual assaults was found to be untested, Bratton said. Nearly 3,800 of those cases have been closed either because detectives arrested someone, prosecutors refused to pursue the case, or police could not determine that a crime had been committed. The remainder of the investigations are open. In 118 cases, the attack occurred more than a decade ago, meaning that prosecutors likely cannot legally charge anyone even if DNA testing leads to a suspect. In 403 other cases, detectives have no discernible suspects to pursue, raising the question why potentially helpful DNA evidence has gone unexamined.