PDT Staff Report
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the number of rape kits tested as part of the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative has surpassed 2,000 kits.
As of Friday, forensic scientists with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have fully tested 2,093 rape kits for DNA, resulting in a total of 688 DNA matches in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
More than 500 of the kits were tested in October alone, resulting in the return of nearly 200 DNA matches in the same time period.
Each kit represents a sexual assault in which DNA was taken, but not previously submitted for testing by the investigating agency.
“We owe it to the victims of these crimes to do all that we can to get answers,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Many of these rapists likely thought that they got away with their crimes, but the science of DNA testing has caught up with them, and we are starting to see some serious prison sentences as a result.”
In Cuyahoga County this week, a man was sentenced to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison after the SAK Testing Initiative linked him to three rapes in Cleveland. Delbert Buckwald, 48, pleaded guilty to raping two women and a 12-year-old girl between July 1993 and February 1994. The child was walking home from school when she was attacked. Buckwald has two previous rape convictions and is currently in the midst of a 10-year sentence. He was scheduled to be released from prison in 2017, but will now not be eligible for parole until 2047.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office alone has indicted more than 50 people as a direct result of the SAK Testing Initiative, including Elias Acevedo, who, following his recent indictment for a 1993 rape, was charged with the murders of two women in Cleveland that occurred in the early 90s.
Attorney General DeWine announced the SAK Testing Initiative in December 2011 by offering free DNA testing to any law enforcement agency with untested rape kits in which they believe a crime was committed. In total, 110 law enforcement agencies have submitted 4,548 kits for testing as part of the initiative.
Currently, four of BCI’s forensic scientists focus primarily on the testing of the old kits, and six additional scientists will be hired to assist with BCI’s forensic biology and DNA analyses.