DENVER - One year after the implementation of a new law prompted by a CALL7 investigation, officials say they have already found DNA matches by analyzing previously-untested rape kits.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Thursday it had received results back from testing its first batch of 150 rape kits -- which represents less than 5 percent of all untested kits statewide -- which were outsourced to four labs throughout the country. From those 150 kits, CBI was able to develop 60 DNA profiles and upload them into CODIS, a national DNA database used by law enforcement to identity offenders and help solve crimes.
The uploaded information also produced 24 hits on existing profiles in CODIS, which means the DNA from those kits matches the DNA of a person who is already in the database in connection with another crime.
Kelly Binder, whose rape kit was never tested, said she feels validated knowing that evidence from other sex assault cases is turning up leads. For years, she's heard police say many rape kits don't need to be tested.
"I want those officers to apologize. Just a simple 'I'm sorry. We were wrong, we made a mistake,' would be just huge. I think that's all it takes," Binder said.
Among the new DNA profiles that CBI was able to develop from the first round of testing, 26 came from rape kits submitted by the Aurora Police Department. Another nine came from the Thornton Police Department, and 25 came from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Twelve of the 24 hits on existing DNA profiles were from kits submitted by Aurora PD, three were from Thornton PD, and nine were from El Paso County.
A DNA "hit" does not necessarily mean a person committed other sexual assaults. Sometimes they occur when the DNA of a person who is incarcerated for any crime is uploaded to CODIS.
DNA matches can occur whether the suspect is known to the victim or unknown. Experts say testing rape kits when a suspect is known to the victim is particularly important because it can help connect a known person to other cases in which the same suspect was unknown.
The 150 rape kits were tested under a new law signed by Governor John Hickenlooper last June, which requires police departments in Colorado to submit previously-untested rape kits by June 2015. CBI says so far, agencies have reported more than 6,000 untested kits.
"This needs to be done, this should have been done a long time ago," Binder said. "And I'm grateful."
Twenty Denver rape kits were submitted in this first round of testing, but it is unclear whether Binder's was among them. The results from those 20 kits have not been released.
Thornton and El Paso County both told CALL7 that investigators have been assigned to each of the cases that produced CODIS hits. Aurora says four of its cases have been assigned to investigators, and APD is still gathering details on the other eight cases.
Click here to see more from the CALL7 Investigators' series on rape kit testing in Colorado.