New leads in local sexual assault cases

News

Panama City, Fla. (WMBB)–It’s a crime no one should ever have to endure…rape. But when an assault takes place, victims and their families want justice. But here in Florida, back logged sexual assault kits put many cases on hold…until now.

In 2015, the FDLE received grant funding to test over 8,000 sexual assault kits that were back logged due to lack of funding and resources.

“In this case, they took those DNA profiles that were developed, they submitted them to the CODIS system and that allowed them to check the DNA samples from the sexual battery kits to known offenders or other people that had been arrested for similar types of cases,” said Larry Basford, Chief Assistant State Attorney.

67 kits were submitted from the 14th Judicial District which generated  14 new leads.

Now, local agencies will re-investigate those cases. That could mean re-interviewing victims and suspects.

Basford says the discoveries are life-changing.

“DNA evidence can be very compelling in sexual battery cases. They can number 1 either totally exonerate an individual or they can number 2 be very incriminating and along with other evidence lead to convicting a person beyond a reasonable doubt,” Basford said.

The CODIS system has helped local law enforcement in the past.

In the late 90’s, the system helped them convict a local sex offender referred to as the “Ninja Rapist”.

“He had committed sexual battery on a number of women in the Springfield area, attempted to burglarize and rape other women. He was identified through the CODIS system maybe 10 years later and was successfully convicted and sent to prison,” Basford said.

In total, the FDLE’s project yielded 1,814 DNA matches across the state..

The State does not expect there to be a backlog like this ever again.


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