DNA testing of Virginia’s rape kit backlog leads to 44 ‘hits’

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The testing of Virginia’s rape kit backlog has led to 44 DNA ‘hits,’ according to Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s office.

A ‘hit’ means that a match has been found for someone that had already been in the Virginia criminal database. The results are now being turned over to law enforcement for possible investigation.

All 44 ‘hits’ have come from Virginia Beach and Fairfax County.

“For perpetrators out there, they need to know their Commonwealth understands how serious a crime sexual assault is and we will be relentless in pursuing justice, bringing them and holding them accountable for what they have done,” Attorney General Mark Herring said. “I will not rest until every kit is tested, survivors know the results and each case gets a fresh look.”

Back in January, AG Herring secured a $2 million federal grant to implement systemwide enhancements to the way Virginia handles sexual assaults, from evidence collection and testing all the way through to investigation and ongoing survivor support services.

Sequoia Owen, however, who provides support services for rape survivors at the YWCA in South Hampton Roads, said the news of a DNA match can be bittersweet.

“I will not rest until every kit is tested, survivors know the results and each case gets a fresh look.” — AG Herring

“Being able to be notified and say, ‘hey, we’ve gotten a hit,’ brings up a whole dredge of emotion that the victim may not be ready for,” Owen explained.

Owen says a DNA match can bring hope for those who desperately want a conviction, but it can also bring about false hope.

“Just because it’s a hit doesn’t mean that some will follow through with the prosecution or someone will get arrested,” she said.

100 more kits from Chesapeake will head to the independent lab in northern Virginia for testing in the next few days. Kits from Chesterfield and Richmond are already at the lab but the results are not in yet.
8News will keep you posted with any developments.

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