Understanding the case: Memphis Backlog - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Understanding the case: Memphis' backlogged rape kits

Memphis Police Department's backlog of untested rape kits could be the largest in the United States. According to data from End the Backlog, Memphis has the highest known number: 12, 164. Although, in mid-September 2014 officials discovered 200 more untested kits.

The evidence dates back to 1976. Flash forward to this year, a report released in the summer revealed that the city's backlog can be attributed to officials following a standard of practice; one that has now evolved and is no longer considered the best method.

An attorney found in these decades, "there was a general and collective failure to understand the importance of DNA testing as was reflected in common practices in place locally and nationwide."

Take a look below at cities (in yellow markers) across the nation with a backlog, data according to End the Backlog. Click a state, in varieties of purple, to read sex offenders count by state for 2013, which is data from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Tennessee is in the top 10 states for having the largest sex offender count, according to NCMEC. That number will grow as more kits are tested. By this spring, police issued 14 new rape indictments after 91 new investigations launched from the kits.

Even more investigations sprouted after kit testing was completed on the first wave of 2,226. Police admit much work is to be done in this process.

Aug. 20, 2013: 2,0000 found

Aug. 21, 2013: 10,000 found

Sept. 16, 2014:     200 found


      Total:   12,360 found

Kits tested as of 2014: 4,709


          7,651 left to test

City of Memphis is in full compliance with the mayor's executive order to end the sexual assault kit backlog. As of August, the funding gap to test the remaining kits was $3,775,500, and it could take several years to finish testing every kit.

Some victims have courageously stepped forward to hold law enforcement officials accountable, and prevent similar crimes from happening again.

"I just wanted to be the shining light for other girls that are scared to come forward. I just wanted to show them that there are other people out there, they're not the only ones," said May 21, 2003 victim Madison Graves.

Graves and Meaghan Ybos were sexually assaulted two days apart. Both women filed a lawsuit against the city, in which the city filed a motion to dismiss.

"We described the exact same MO [method of operation] to law enforcement, and we both consented to forensic examination," she said. "We feel that having put our faces and names on this, is going to make it, it's going to help the public understand."

Graves was 12 years old and Ybos was 16 years old when assaulted.

"I hope that they'll start doing things differently. If this happens to another 12-year-old girl or 16-year-old girl, that her kit will be tested, and he will be found, and he won't have the chance to tag on seven other females to his list," Graves said.

The women waited more than 10 years to hear about an arrest, only to find out that their kits had not been tested. Both of the women were victims of Anthony Alliano, who was recently arrested, convicted, and sentenced after their rape kits were tested.

"It made me sick to know that my kit just sat there forever and that this all could have been avoided, everybody that was after us," Ybos said. "[Graves] was number one, I was number two. Everybody that was after us could have been avoided had they taken care of it."

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