51 untested rape kits found in Robbins, spanning 30 years - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

51 untested rape kits found in Robbins, spanning 30 years

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Police in the south suburbs found a shocking discovery Tuesday: dozens of DNA evidence kits from sexual assault cases gathering dust for over nearly three decades.

In a news conference Tuesday night, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said the fact that 51 DNA kits, which had never been submitted for evidence, came to light when Cook County and state police began looking at the data in various jurisdictions.

State law requires every rape kit be turned in within 10 days to the state crime lab.

"Someone had been sexually assaulted, they'd gone to a hospital, had the rape kit done--which is a rather traumatic four plus hour experience," Dart says. "The kit had been sent back to the station and it had never been acted upon."

Robbins Police Commander Christian Daigre, who took over the department on January 1st, says some of the kits belong to victims who did not want to pursue charges and that's why they were not turned over.

"Under the previous administration, our accounting methods for evidence was probably not up to par," Daigre says. "It was not done, in my opinion, the way it should have been. Which is why as soon as I took command, one of the first things we did was order an audit of our evidence room to include sexual kits, weapons, and any other evidence we have downstairs currently."

In 2007, authorities made a similar discovery of untested evidence in nearby Harvey.

More than 200 untested rape kits — the evidence collected in sexual assaults — were found in a raid on the Harvey Police Department in 2007.

Authorities with the sheriff's office, Cook County State's Attorney's office and Illinois State Police conducted the Harvey raid to confiscate evidence in numerous unsolved murders.

Follow-up testing of the evidence from the murders and rapes led to numerous charges.

In this case, Sheriff Dart says he will not be finger pointing, but mentioned that the department has been financially strained. He says victims have not yet been contacted.

The sheriff says his department will also analyze the inventories of other law enforcement agencies to see if there are more unprocessed DNA kits.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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