Use DNA to clear cold cases

Throughout Ohio, rapists who may have thought for years they had gotten away with their vicious crimes are learning otherwise.

Last fall, state Attorney General Mike DeWine asked police departments to check their cold case files for physical evidence in unsolved rapes. Much of it had been preserved in old “rape kits” used to collect evidence during examinations of victims.

Nearly 1,500 DNA samples have been analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for analysis. Despite the passage of time – some of the samples were nearly 20 years old – the BCI’s technicians matched 460 samples with people in a nationwide database. That has resulted in charges being filed against some alleged rapists.

No doubt there will be more successes in the program; about 2,000 DNA samples submitted by police departments remain to be tested.

But some law enforcement agencies appear not to be taking advantage of DeWine’s campaign. Only about one-eighth of Ohio’s police departments have submitted evidence for BCI analysis.

Police and sheriff’s departments that have not submitted DNA samples in unsolved rapes should dig it out of their evidence rooms and send it to the BCI. Given the agency’s success rate in matching about one-third of the samples already tested, the likelihood is excellent that some cold cases can be solved.

In doing so, it has been pointed out, local and state law enforcement agencies may prevent some assaults in the future.