Delaware gets help with backlog of untested rape kits

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Watch the report from Gray Hall on Action News at 4 p.m. on August 1, 2018.

Police agencies across Delaware are getting some much needed help when it comes to the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits. Christian Kervick and Michael Kelley with the Criminal Justice Council says the state had over one-thousand untested kits in evidence rooms.

"These are not just boxes, cardboard boxes sitting in refrigerator or on a shelf somewhere, these are people's lives and our message is that these are not going to go forgotten. We are going to continue this project and this process, " says Christian Kervick with the State of Delaware Criminal Justice Council.

The Criminal Justice Council says there are numerous reasons why a kit may go untested - but the good news is, the agency has received a federal grant for over one million dollars - and those kits are now being tested. The DNA collected, could help close some of the cases and put potential criminals behind bars.

"Once the testing comes back with DNA or no DNA law enforcement review that entire case...is there something we missed, is there something we can do differently...is this something we need to reopen," says Michael Kelley with the State of Delaware Criminal Justice Council.

The initiative has already proved successful for Wilmington Police. They were able to arrest and charge 39-year-old Kili Mayfield with rape and other charges from a 2017 case. Police say DNA evidence tested showed Mayfield was the suspect in the case.

"It is rewarding to see that the hard work pays off, that we are getting cases to the Attorney General's Office where they are bringing criminal charges and indictments. And we are able to provide that closure to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions," Kelley told Action News.
According to the Criminal Council, New Castle County Police had the highest number of untested kits with 221, followed by Wilmington with 182, Newark with 107 and Dover Police had 82 untested kits.

"Some of them are old....one went back to 1984 but some are relatively new and they are being worked. We are just trying to give them an additional set of resources so they can find the perpetrator," Kervick.

Sergeant Heather Carter, with New Castle County Police in favor of the initiative and will hopes it will provide closure for victims. Obviously, I can't speak on any active cases so we are just hoping this new initiative and the testing of these kits will resolve some cases," said Sergeant Heather Carter.

Those who have ever had a sexual assault kit collected and would like more information about those kits should contact the Delaware Victim's Center at (800)-842-8461 or visit the Delaware SAKI website at cjc.delaware.gov.

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