LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Approximately 10,000 untested rape kits are sitting in evidence rooms across the state, leaving victims with no justice.
Last August, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) asked law enforcement agencies across the state to report the numbers of untested rape kits. Some of those kits could go back decades. Around 700 kits are sitting on the shelves in Southwest Florida.
Eileen Wesley is confused to hear about the large amount of untested rape kits.
“I think it’s astronomical, it needs to be addressed. I don’t understand it because of how we work here,” said Wesley.
Wesley works at Project Help in Naples, a certified rape crisis center. She says the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has strict guidelines for rape kit testing.
“As of 2003, no rape kit is held in Collier County. It goes in for examination, immediately,” said Wesley.
According to FDLE, CCSO has 40 untouched kits. They say those kits will now be tested, reaching out to all victims involved.
In Lee County, it’s a different story. WINK News found out that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) has 498 untested kits, the largest number in Southwest Florida. That number shocks Wesley.
“I don’t think with the thousands and thousands of untested kits you hear on the news each day, that there are that many victims that don’t want to move forward,” said Wesley.
Colleen Henderson works alongside LCSO at the Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center.
Henderson says Lee County has made a promise to her, moving forward.
“All kits given to them are going to be turned over for testing,” said Henderson.
Henderson says, that way the DNA evidence can be entered into a national database, to potentially help solve other crimes.
WINK News reached out to LCSO, asking why there were so many untested rape kits, and why they weren’t submitted. We also asked about their promise to test every kit going forward. LCSO says they are working on the answers, but would not have them at air time.