Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that the latest batch of untested sexual assault kits was gathered from neighboring departments at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department yesterday and shipped to the lab to be tested. In total, 35 kits were gathered from five departments and shipped to the lab.
“This shipping event is even more progress toward our goal of clearing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Missouri and obtaining justice on behalf of victims,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “I want to thank Sheriff Marshak and his staff for hosting this shipping event and working together with my office on this important initiative.”
“We are glad to support the comprehensive efforts of Attorney General Schmitt to get justice for more victims. We feel that increasing the testing opportunities will create more opportunities for successful prosecution. Also, as a result of internal audits, we identified areas for improvement, which have already been implemented,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak.
Kits were gathered from the Festus Police Department, Arnold Police Department, Potosi Police Department, Washington County Sheriff Department and Jefferson County Sheriff Department.
Since the first shipping event, held at the Springfield Police Department in December of 2019, over 1,000 untested sexual assault kits that were identified in the SAFE Kit Initiative inventory have been shipped to the private lab in Virginia to be tested.
In addition to yesterday’s event, shipping events have been held in O’Fallon, Lee’s Summit, Grandview, Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, and Joplin, as well as the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the New Madrid County Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Office.
Regional shipping events will continue in the future as the Attorney General’s Office continues to work to gather and ship backlogged untested sexual assault kits to the lab for testing.
The lab in Virginia has been deemed an essential business, and Marshall University, which conducts technical review of the lab results, are also continuing to work at normal pace. No slowdown in testing is expected, and the previous timeline should hold.
The SAFE Kits Initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits in the backlog, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and potentially eventual prosecution.