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Bend police have 113 untested rape kits in storage


A nationwide backlog has the Oregon Legislature looking into untested rape kits. Oregon State Police requested the numbers from each agency.

The kits are relatively small packages. They might not look like much, but for some men and women, the kit contains critical evidence that could help to put their alleged attacker behind bars.

However, in some cases, the evidence is being locked away instead.

The purpose of the kit is to gather as much DNA evidence as possible. The kit is then sealed and handed over to the police. The agency that receives it depends on the jurisdiction the alleged crime took place in.

Martha Murray, a volunteer for Saving Grace, a Bend-based organization that provides family violence and sexual assault services, said the actual kit takes about 45 minutes to an hour to prepare. The time spent can be crucial for survivors.

“I don’t think they’re thinking that it’s going to go sit on a shelf,” Murray said.

She’s been helping survivors for 11 years. She said the kits themselves take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

One reason for the backlog of older rape kits is the dramatic improvements in technology for DNA testing in recent years, as well as a backlog at crime labs around the country on evidence of all kinds needing testing.

Also, news reports have indicated the testing is time-consuming and can average $1,000 or more — and that’s just the start of a long, costly process to use a DNA database to possibly identify and prosecute a perpetrator.

Bend police keep rape kits in their evidence storage room. It’s located at their headquarters, behind locked doors.

NewsChannel 21 requested information at the beginning of May on how many tests actually are sent to the lab.

“It took two days just to look up how many kits we have since 2000,” Lt. Clint Burleigh said.

The department found 113 untested kits in its custody. The evidence spans from the current date to 2000.

Burleigh says there’s more to it than that. Kits are not automatically sent into the lab for testing. The decision to do that is on a case by case basis. There are many reasons why a kit would not be sent.

Along with NewsChannel 21 and the Oregon State Police, the Deschutes County district attorney looked into the number when he saw lawmakers getting involved.

“I’m confident that none of the untested kits we have now would solve a case,” DA John Hummel said.

However, the police department is going to check into some of the kits.

“There’s cases I’ve sent to supervisors and said, ‘Why don’t we look at this case We should probably look at this case,'” Burleigh said.

Of the 113 kits Bend police have, 13 of them are anonymous. Six from the last two years are part of open investigations. The decision on whether to test those is still up in the air, depending on how the investigation goes.

Federal estimates indicate that there are probably hundreds of thousands of untested kits nationwide. More info can be found at:

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