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Once backlogged sex assault evidence kits lead to 300 possible cases

Posted at 7:53 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 21:53:38-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Pima County prosecutors say now that DNA sexual assault evidence kits that had been untested have been tested they’re finding more than 300 matches to suspects in the National DNA database.

Now, investigators have to determine if a DNA match can lead to sexual assault convictions.

When a jury found Nathan Loebe guilty of 12 counts of sexual assault recently, he was the first of four prosecutions from a drive to test a backlog of about 19 hundred kits that collected DNA from sexual assault victims.

Prosecutor Nicol Green says it had been the norm to not process the kits if it was already established there was sexual contact between the defendant and victim.

“And the mind set has shifted to the bigger picture which is. This is how we identify serial rapists”>

Now there's a push in Arizona and nationwide to test all the DNA kits and that's unlocking the potential to find sexual predators like Nathan Loebe. Investigators believe he attacked multiple victims in a series of cities.

Nicol Green says Tucson Police are most of the way through a backlog of about 19 hundred DNA kits and so far they've found about three hundred seventy matches to names on CODIS, the national DNA database.

Now a Tucson Police Detective has to try to turn those DNA matches into cases strong enough to make an arrest.

Green says, “And he's got a lot of work to do, because there are now 300 plus cases to investigate, where we have at least known identified suspect, and a victim because clearly they reported it to law enforcement, at some point, because they had a sexual assault kit done in a sexual assault examination done."

And because those victims reported an attack the evidence from that attack could close their case---and put away someone who preyed on many other victims too.