Memphis Passed Up On Money To Test Rape Kits

Memphis Passed Up On Money To Test Rape Kits

Could the City of Memphis have closed thousands of rape cases years ago? Newly released documents show Memphis passed up on money that could have cleared the backlog of untested rape kits.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis)--Could the City of Memphis have closed thousands of rape cases years ago? Newly released documents show Memphis passed up on money that could have cleared the backlog of untested rape kits.

A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation memo dated December 18, 2003, and sent to all State Law Enforcement Agencies, may deal another blow to the controversial case of backlogged rape kit tests.

In the memo, TBI Assistant Director Mark Gwyn advises of an extension of a grant allowing submissions of no suspect DNA rape cases.

In the letter, Gwyn said, " I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the date to submit no suspect DNA Cases to the Nashville, Memphis or Knoxville Crime Laboratories has been extended to January 30, 2004. Pursuant to correspondence sent to all Tennessee Law Enforcement Agencies on July 21, 2003, and October 1, 2003, outlining the steps to submit no suspect DNA cases, we feel this extension should provide ample time for agencies to submit any cases they may have." 


Many are now questioning why a backlog of tests remain after assistance like this was offered by the state. Perhaps a fact prompting a letter from City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove this week.
In her letter to the TBI, Fullilove asks how much money was available and if the city refused or denied funding for testing.

Some close to the issue say blame isn't reserved for one person.

"I don't think you can blame any particular individual in the Memphis Police Department or anywhere else for this," said former Shelby County District Attorney, Bill Gibbons. "It would appear to be more of a systemic failure over decades."

As for the former district attorney's actions when the backlog came to light in 2009, he said, "I indicated at that time that I would submit for testing by TBI any case by MPD they wanted me to submit."

A spokesperson for the TBI told Local 24 News that $500,000 was allocated August of last year for rape kit testing across the State.

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