A police department in North Carolina destroyed 333 rape kits between 1995 and 2008 to make space in its evidence room, officials said Monday.
Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock says in February, his department’s special victims unit commander began a review of old sex assault cases going back to the 1990s.
The commander was tasked with determining if there was a need for a cold case sex assault unit, but in June, it was revealed that some cold-case sexual assault kits were disposed of.
Medlock claims no laws were broken but called the destruction “poor procedure,” and said his department takes full responsibility for trashing the kits.
Of the 333 destroyed kits, 167 cases remained unresolved for various reasons and Medlock says the department is committed to making sure that evidence removal doesn’t happen again.
Two of the kits were associated with cases which currently have suspects incarcerated, but Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said he doesn’t think the missing evidence will have an effect on the prosecution of those cases.
Police say all sexual assault kits collected after December 17, 2008 are currently accounted for.
Fayetteville recently got a federal grant to go back and test cold case sexual assault kits dating back to 1984 but throwing away old kits was not supposed to be part of the deal.
The cold case sexual assault unit is in the process of reviewing hundreds of old cases and Medlock said the review has already resulted in evidence from 16 unsolved sexual assault cases being sent to the crime lab for testing.
Medlock asserts that arrests are expected in some of those cases.
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