More than 800 untested New Orleans, La., rape kits will be tested by the Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) by the beginning of next year, according to a New Orleans police official quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The tests are expected to clear up a backlog that includes physical evidence from sexual assaults that date back to the 1980s.
Of the 800 old kits, the New Orleans Police Department said so far they have received 12 matches with people whose DNA is listed in a national database that is maintained by the FBI, and those cases are being investigated. The kits had apparently been sitting in storage for several years, according to New Orleans police officials.
The testing will be done in cooperation with the Louisiana State Police’s crime laboratory.
At the core of the MUFSC’s mission of providing critical assistance to the law enforcement community is its forensic DNA laboratory. Nationally recognized and accredited, MUFSC’s DNA laboratory has continued to provide important analysis services to law enforcement agencies. One of the services offered is the analysis of Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) samples for West Virginia. CODIS is a DNA database of convicted offenders. Through its role as West Virginia’s CODIS laboratory, the Forensic Science Center is part of a national effort to connect all state police CODIS labs to the FBI’s National DNA Index System (NDIS).
Other MUFSC services include performing forensic casework for agencies across the country, processing both civil and criminal parentage samples and engaging in innovative DNA projects.
Marshall’s laboratory was established in 1994 when Senate Bill 252 established MUFSC as the DNA data-basing lab for the state. In addition to financial support from the state, a memorandum of understanding with the West Virginia State Police allows MUFSC and state law enforcement to share vital resources. The lab also receives funding through cooperative agreements with the National Institute of Justice, Office of Science and Technology and Forensic Sciences Division.
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