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Slides from cold case sexual assaults preserved, survivors asked to come forward

Slides from cold case sexual assaults preserved, survivors asked to come forward
Slides from cold case sexual assaults preserved, survivors asked to come forward 02:58

BALTIMORE - Amid mass testing of physical evidence from incidents of sexual assaults preserved on microscope slides between 1977 and 1997 by an emergency room physician, Baltimore County leaders call on survivors to come forward to opt in or out of updates on their case.

"We're here to encourage those looking for answers to reach out to our expert partner advocates who will help guide them through the process, connect them with resources and share next steps," Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said.

The late Dr. Rudiger Breitenecker began this work at Greater Baltimore Medical Center before forensic science became fundamental to the investigative process. 

In an announcement Tuesday, Baltimore County leaders made another move to help breathe new life into cold cases connected to the safely stored evidence of more than 2,000 microscope slides.

This time, county officials ask survivors who may have been treated at GBMC between that 20-year timeframe to reach out for the status of their case. 

"One of the first things that they can expect is an apology from our advocates," said Laura Jessick, a member of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "We are sorry that they were left without knowing what happened to their evidence for so long."

The Baltimore County Police Department said it will send 1,044 slides to a lab by the end of this week.

The initial delay in testing the trove of evidence stored by Dr. Breitenecker stemmed from a lack of funds and resources, according to the department.

But last year, with $2 million in funding between a state grant and a donation from the Hackerman Foundation Inc., plus the passage of a new state law exclusively highlighted by WJZ in September, Baltimore County plans to complete testing of all remaining slides by the end of 2024.

Already, the proof is in the prosecutor's history in taking evidence from the slides to trial, which illustrates the ripple effect Dr. Breitenecker's foresight still has on the future. 

"From 1990s to 2000, 101 DNA profiles were generated from some slides," Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said. "The DNA analysis of those slides resulted in 84 matches, which resulted in 49 convictions."

If you may be a survivor impacted by this situation, contact 1-833-364-0046 or email to learn more. 

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