Hundreds of backlogged rape kits tested; positive matches found

Published: Aug. 23, 2016 at 6:32 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds of backlogged rape kits in Huntington were discovered and began to be tested last year.

Some of the kits dated back over a decade.

All of those kits have been tested and 55 have been matched to DNA profiles in the CODIS system. CODIS is the combined DNA Index System that the FBI's uses as a DNA database.

The Huntington Police Department is currently working with 13 of those matches in high priority open investigations. Police along with a team of officials from the prosecutor's office, the CONTACT rape crisis center, Marshall University's Forensic Science Center and other officials work together to prioritize which cases are investigated first.

High priority cases usually involve a concern for public safety.

The police department is battling another issue-- reaching the victims.

"That's part of the problem with the old cases, people move around, they're very transitory and sometimes the victim is hard to find," CONTACT Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Sharon Pressman told WSAZ. "Cellphone numbers change, people move."

Out of the 13 open investigations, the police department has only been able to contact two victims. Neither of those victims want to press charges.

"It's been ten years and the victim may have a whole new life and she may not want to bring that part of her old life back," Pressman said.

The Huntington Police Department is rolling out a new addition to their website, they hope to have running by the end of the week.

It will allow victims who believe their case was one of the backlogged cases that have been tested to reach out to police and submit a form.

Oswold Gibson was the first of those matches from the backlogged cases to face charges.