Missouri Rape Kits Go Untested

Photo by News Leader

Avery Gautieri

As of 2019, it has been reported that there are 5,000-10,000 or more rape testing kits have been left untested by law enforcement due to a lack of “appropriate funding” to run DNA testing. Despite the $2.8 million grant received by, former Attorney General, Josh Hawley’s office intended to go towards funding full DNA testing, 90% of collected kits have been left untested, the vast majority remaining inconclusive. Law enforcement has said that about 830 kits have had “some tests run,” however, these kits, in particular, were not tested for DNA evidence. 

The state of Missouri does not mandate the testing of newly collected rape kits, and is “not committed” to testing, as there are no laws in place requiring law enforment agencies to count, track, or test rape kits. Following an inventory of the rape kits, promped by Attorney General Josh Hawley, in May of 2018 it was revealed that 4,889 rape kits had not been submitted for DNA testing, the number rising to 5,424 by October of the same year. 

Because of these exceedingly high numbers, Missouri legislature enacted a law in 2018 regarding the untested rape kits, in which law enforcement must take posession of the kits within 14 days of the rape being reported. As of December 2018, the 47,216 kits that have been tested for DNA, 15%, about 7,060 tests, resulted in a match to the accused rapist. For example, in 2015, Taylor Hirth, resident of Independence, Missouri, was raped in her home after a group of men broke in. After reporting this to the authorities, her case was investigated for six months before being closed. Two months later, the DNA collected from Hirth’s rape kit matched that found in another kit submitted by a sheriff’s deputy in another county who had been kidnapped and also raped by Hirth’s perpetrators. 

At this time, it is uncertain whether or not the testing of rape kits will increase or remain constant.