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Old DNA evidence leads to new sex assault prosecutions

Untested evidence kits are being tested now
Posted at 7:50 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 22:50:46-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There's a breakthrough in a long list of sexual assault cases.

More than a thousand kits to help track down rapists through their DNA had been sitting unanalysed but now Tucson Police and the Pima County Attorney have been able to get the work done and at least sixty attacks have been matched up with suspects.

Nathan Loebe is the first suspect indicted from the new wave of DNA matches.  He's charged with 12 sexual assaults. One case dates back 14 years.

He's suspected of perhaps 40 attacks across the country.           

The DNA kits can cost two thousand dollars to process.  Tight budgets kept about 17 hundred unchecked. 

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall says now a million dollar grant helped process TPD's DNA backlog.

"It's a big relief not only for the police agency but for the prosecutors’ office and it has to be for the public as well to be able to test all the kits and to see whether or not we have any suspect hits and we've actually gotten 60 hits so far out of the 400 plus sexual assault kits we've tested.">

Jonathan Kandell  of SACASA, The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault says to victims, processing the evidence kits is an important sign authorities take their case seriously but victims may welcome a chance for justice or dread reviving a terrible time they've tried to forget.

“Healing from PTSD is very much about being in control so they should really decide what they want to do about that.  It's very important that the family be supportive and kind of give some room for the person to have unusual emotions."

He says counseling can help, from SACASA or others.

Barbara LaWall says some victims may not want to testify but she hopes they will realize helping prosecutors, could put away someone they see as a predator, before he attacks someone else.

LaWall says if you think the DNA samples could relate to an incident you were involved with call 88-CRIME or Tucson Police.