CMPD still working on rape kit backlog

Untested rape kits are gathering dust in the crime labs in Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Untested rape kits are gathering dust on the crime labs shelves in Charlotte; the numbers were staggering when we first broke the story almost two years ago.

This week marks one year since Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police started a major effort to change that while at the same time the issue has become a political hot potato in the gubernatorial race.

She was just 20, a student at UNCC back in the '70s when the man later dubbed the ski mask rapist brutally attacked her.

“It’s very devastating when you're that age and someone violates and rapes you like that in your home.”

Worse-- he wasn’t caught until decades later. It was a DNA match that finally nailed Jerry Brooks as a serial rapist. So she is an advocate for making sure every rape kit gets tested and the DNA entered into the system.

Like many, she was shocked a year-and-a-half ago when NBC Charlotte first uncovered more than a 1000 rape kits literally gathering dust on the shelves at CMPD's crime lab-- the number was so high it got national attention.

Back then, police said, “The number itself sounds horrible and I understand that.”

That’s why a year ago this week, the federal government gave CMPD half-a-million dollars to make sure every kit gets tested, ASAP.

Something Charlotte's rape crisis center applauded.

Mike Blackwelder with Safe Alliance says, “[It's] very important for us and the victims that do come forward to see them go through.”

So NBC Charlotte wanted to know how CMPD was doing, and a spokesman for CMPD said, from the 1100 that were sitting on shelves, 400 have already been sent to an outside lab for testing; another 485 will be sent between now and next October.

That leaves 336 that still need to be tested in house here in the charlotte lab.

The issue again in the spotlight with dueling gubernatorial campaign ads honing in on the state's crime lab.

But the rape survivor NBC Charlotte talked to says it’s not a political issue, it’s a matter of life and death.

When DNA finally helped bring her rapist to justice, she says her life changed-– for the better.

“What do you think that there are hundreds of kits that still need to be tested?" NBC Charlotte asked.

"I think they have a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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