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Allegheny County Receives More Than $250,000 To Test Rape Kits

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- More than a decade ago then-coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht showed us the untested evidence.

Boxes and bags of evidence from hundreds of rape cases. They were un-examined and un-analyzed, collecting dust instead of catching criminals.

"Rapists definitely going unidentified, and hence un-arrested," said Wecht.

But since then the county has inaugurated a state-of-the-art crime lab and with the help of federal and state grants, has developed a DNA analysis section that has tested hundreds of those kits.

"So we really have largely eliminate any significant backlog," said medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams.

The crime lab takes in about 100 rape cases for analysis each year and is currently working through about 160 cases, according to medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams. But that doesn't mean he can't use a $254,000 grant aimed at clearing up rape kit backlogs across the country.

"This grant comes at a perfect time," he said.

Williams says in polling local police department and hospitals, there are about 400 untested rape samples that have never come to the crime lab and the grant will now be used to test those -- and perhaps solve some cold cases.

Stunning examples of the effectiveness of the county's DNA testing include the conviction of Arthur Lamont Henderson for the rape of two women in Ross and another in Hopewell in 2012.

And there was San Quentin inmate Akaninyene Akan who was extradited from California to Allegheny County when the DNA on one of his tossed away cigarette butts matched the sample of a raped woman here.

And although the county appears to be well ahead of the rest of the nation, the medical examiner hopes this new grant will bring the crime lab closer to that elusive goal of having no kit left untested.

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