The backlog of untested rape kits in Kentucky has grown larger than the initial 3,000 discovered in a state audit in 2015.
While testing has been completed on the original backlog, officials have uncovered 1,500 so-called boomerang kits. Those are rape kits sent to the crime lab, not tested for various reasons, and then returned to law enforcement agencies. The state recently received a nearly $3 million federal grant to examine those additional kits.
Gretchen Hunts heads the Office of Victims Advocacy in the Kentucky Attorney General's Office. She says many states are dealing with a backlog of sexual assault kits, but Kentucky is one of only a few to address the problem on a statewide level.
"Many other jurisdiction, such as Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, have been awarded these grants more on a city jurisdiction, which is a little easier to manage," Hunt told WKU Public Radio. "We're trying to do this work from Whitesburg to Paducah."
The U.S. Justice Department grant will also allow the state attorney general's office to establish a sexual assault cold case unit that will consist of a prosecutor, detective, and victims advocate. With testing nearly complete, the grant will help fund the reopening of cases.
The state has submitted more than 400 DNA profiles to a national database and nearly half of those have been linked to convicted felons. So far, there have been two indictments in rape cases from Louisville and Bowling Green.
Charges can be brought in any of the cases since Kentucky has no statute of limitations on felony sex crimes.