Kalamazoo County adds two investigators for unsolved rape cases

Kalamazoo County adds two investigators for unsolved rape cases. (File - WWMT)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office is preparing to add two investigators to a newly formed team that investigates cases involving untested rape kits.

The work is part of a statewide program begun by Attorney General Bill Schuette after officials found more than 1,800 untested rape kits in several counties, including nearly 200 in Kalamazoo County.

Funding from the state would pay for the new hires and the Kalamazoo County Commission passed the resolution at Tuesday’s meeting.

Newschannel 3's Mike Krafcik sat down with Kalamazoo Prosecutor Jeff Getting to talk about his office's efforts.

Getting said these efforts will result in more victims getting justice they have sought and in the process will take criminals off the street.

Two retired KDPS detectives with decades of experience will be hired by Getting to become the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit project investigators.

Getting said, “They've had experience in these types of investigations. They'll hit the ground running.”

The new hires would conduct criminal investigations related to cases involving untested rape kits and their salaries would be covered in full by funding from the Attorney General’s Office.

Schuette’s investigation revealed there were 194 that were saved by law enforcement agencies in Kalamazoo County. Some of the untested kits are more than 30 years old. Many times, victims don't want to pursue charges or fail to take part in the investigation..

Getting said, “With that time, some of that has changed.”

The new investigators would join a rape kit investigative team, which is headed by a Special Assistant Attorney General appointed by Schuette two months ago, to work through all 194 cases.

Getting said every rape kit in Kalamazoo County has been tested, to date, to see if DNA matches those already on file from possible suspects.

Getting said, “We've identified some cases were looking at and prioritizing them based on statute of limitations and other issues.”

While nobody has been charged yet under Kalamazoo county's testing effort. The Calhoun County Sexual Assault Kit Investigation Team got their first conviction last week, when a 24-year-old pleaded guilty two counts of rape that involved a 14-year-old victim. Calhoun County had more than 300 untested kits.

Getting said he's considering adding a community advocate to the staff to work on behalf of victims. He said victims benefit more in these cases when aided by those outside of law enforcement.

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