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Spokane Police have nearly complete backlog of sexual assault evidence kits

Boise State Public Radio

The Spokane Police Department said it has almost completely cleared its backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits.

Spokane’s backlog contained evidence collected between 1981 and 2015. It was more than 1,400 kits. All but 23 have now been and processed.

Spokane was one of many law enforcement agencies with hundreds of kits in storage awaiting testing. The city, as well as many other communities across the state received a grant to process their backlog. According to the Washington Attorney General's Office, more than 10,000 have been tested statewide.

According to the Police Department, testing the kits resulted six people being criminally charged, and a Spokane man being arrested for a homicide in California.

Zac Storment, one of the detectives assigned to investigate the cases, said most have been resolved. That means the kit was sent to a lab in Cheney to be tested, and if a DNA profile was identified, it was entered into a Federal database known as CODIS.

“In some instances, the best outcome happens,” he said, “We get a CODIS hit, a DNA profile is developed from the kit, then entered into CODIS, and a hit results. That's the best circumstances, and that CODIS hit would result in an arrest, but those are very rare.”

Not every test matched a CODIS record. But Storment said now that the information is in the database, associated cases could still be solved.

“Just because the grant is complete and we're not receiving money for this project anymore, it doesn't mean that we've set them all down and walked away,” he said. “There's still investigation going on with some of these cases with the CODIS hits.”

He said a DNA profile doesn’t necessarily help in solving all cases. Many times, the issue in resolving a case was consent, not identifying a suspect.

Storment said detectives also contacted victims to update them on their case status. He said the department referred more 65 victims to Lutheran Community Services, which offers support to survivors of rape, human trafficking and sexual assault.

Those looking to track the status of their sexual assault kit can find more information on the Washington Attorney General's website, or go to

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.