West Virginia Reports Progress with Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – The Mountain State is on track to finish testing for nearly 2,400 sexual assault inventory as part of a multi-year effort.

West Virginia is pursuing justice for victims of sexual assault and other crimes through its continuing and successful role in the national DNA Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

Many kits have never been submitted to a lab. Instead, they were gathering dust at hospitals or law enforcement offices. Some of the kits in the system date back to the late 1980s before modern DNA testing existed.

“It becomes a difficult thing to know you have 600 cases,” said forensic supervisor David Miller. “We do have to manage a lot of difficult cases, but the sexual assaults are at the very top.”

So far, the testing has contributed nearly 300 profiles to the combined national database overseen by the FBI. The initiative is helping victims and their families finally get some answers.

Of the 300 profiles that have been added, 106 of them have resulted in DNA matching either an offender or evidence collected in another crime.

Those hits haven’t been limited to just West Virginia. West Virginia kits have been linked to cases in other states and Puerto Rico.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.