RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia has made significant strides in its effort to test the state’s backlog of rape kits and find justice for rape survivors.
8News has learned that there were several DNA hits on rape kits out of Richmond.
“Each case gets a fresh look,” Attorney General Mark Herring said regarding the significant break that could bring closure to rape survivors in Richmond. “This is really the beginning of making sure that justice is done, identifying perpetrators that might still be out there.”
Of the 195 Richmond rape kits — or perk kits as they’re also called — that were sent onto a lab for DNA testing, 24 have been entered into the national databank known as codis, which contains the DNA profiles of millions of offenders.
Of those 24 entered, seven have already returned a match to a suspect in the database.
“In one particular instance, we have someone who was only known by a nickname, but we believe we got the individuals full name now,” Lt. Jason Hudson with Richmond Police explained.
Lt. Hudson added that one of those seven rape cases dates back to 2004. He said each case will now be reopened, reviewed, the suspects tracked down and the survivors notified.
“And we figure out a best way to make the notifications that are required in these circumstances,” he said.
Realizing this could stir up painful and terrifying memories for victims, Lt. Hudson said the notification process will be handled delicately with the help of victim’s advocates.
“One thing we don’t want to do is unnecessarily traumatize or re-traumatize any of the survivors,” Lt. Hudon said.
In 2014, a state count from police departments around the commonwealth uncovered nearly 3000 untested rape kits. Since then, Herring has secured more than $3 million in grants to make sure th\at every kit gets tested.
“Making sure that every kit gets tested and making sure that every survivor knows the results means so much to these survivors,” Herring said. “Every single one of these cases is important. We are turning a page in how these cases were treated.”
It’s important to note that while the survivors will be notified, some may choose not to press charges, which is their right.
To date, 1,360 of the state’s backlogged rape kits have been sent on to a private lab for testing. As 8News has reported before, there have been 48 hits Virginia Beach and 13 more in Fairfax.
Click here to view the latest testing data from around the state.