September 9, 2020
An ongoing initiative to process untested sexual assault kits in Missouri has produced 11 matches to DNA profiles of known criminal offenders, according to a Wednesday news release from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office.
The initiative, which started during former Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's tenure, began after an investigation by the Columbia Missourian revealed the state had never done an audit to determine the total number of untested kits and that the evidence was languishing in hospitals and law enforcement agencies all over the state.
The matches came after Schmitt's office began shipping untested sexual assault kits to the lab from police departments last year. Of 16 kits that were uploaded to CODIS, the national DNA database of prior offenders, 11 generated matches. These DNA hits will be referred to local law enforcement and prosecutors and could result in arrests.
Other kits could not be uploaded into CODIS, either because only the victim's DNA evidence was found or there wasn't enough DNA to produce a profile of the perpetrator, according to the release.
"Despite challenges posed by COVID, we have continued this important work and are proud to announce the first CODIS hits resulting from kits shipped through the SAFE Kit Initiative," Schmitt said in the news release. "While this is still early in the process, we will work with police departments and local prosecutors to do what we can to hold offenders accountable and honor the courage of victims who have come forward."