Rape Kits Rotting in Shutdown Illinois Police Dept. Outraged Sheriff; Hundreds of Guns Also Unguarded

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart (Credit: WBBM)
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart (WBBM)
CHICAGO (CBS/AP) Seven rape kits were left rotting in an unplugged refrigerator of the Ford Heights, Ill. police department that shut down two years ago - including one sexual assault kit that police said has now linked a man to the 2006 rape of a 13-year-old girl. In addition to the rape kits, nearly 200 guns and hundreds of bags of narcotics were found in a neglected evidence room, officials said Friday.

"You're not talking about ineptness, neglect, you're talking about outrageous conduct of a police department that didn't care about the residents out there," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Cook County police have been patrolling Ford Heights for the past few years after financial problems forced the village to lay off most of its 16 officers. The sheriff's department took over completely in 2008; they took over, Dart said, because the last few Ford Heights officers simply stopped showing up for work.

That was when deputies opened the door to the evidence room.

Detectives were stunned by what they learned about the sexual assault of the girl - and the apparent lack of any meaningful investigation of a case in which there was a great deal of evidence against one man.

"What happened to this girl is unconscionable," said Dart, whose office arrested 27-year-old Marquis Deering last week. "She thought nothing was going to happen to him."

Ford Heights police never interviewed Deering, whose criminal history includes 15 arrests since 2001 and a conviction for aggravated vehicular manslaughter, Dart said. He said it's unclear whether they ever interviewed the girl.

The sheriff said his office also is looking into whether criminal charges can be brought against anyone at the Ford Heights Police Department, but he acknowledged that's not likely.

Nov. 9, 2009 - Rape in America: Justice Denied