According to an internal audit, Fayetteville, North Carolina police have discovered that 333 rape kits were destroyed. These kits were the best hope the victims of these vicious crimes had of ever seeing justice and they are gone because they were entrusted to the wrong police. Many of the kits were from cold cases and all were destroyed between 1995 and 2008 to make room to store more evidence. While the Fayetteville Chief of Police Harold Medlock, is deeply upset — rightfully so — what’s done cannot be undone.
“I’m distraught,” Medlock said during a Monday afternoon press conference, “I’m frustrated and I’m angry that truly one person may not get justice as a result of our practices.”
The Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victims Unit commander started reviewing sexual assault cases that went back to the 90s in an attempt to determine if the department should create a special cold case unit for rape cases. A few months later, in June, SVU discovered that some of the cases had been disposed of.
Medlock did not take over the department until 2013 and the bulk of the evidence was destroyed in 2006 — 143 women lost their only hope of real closure that year, alone.
Most of the people involved in destroying the evidence are now retired and since it did not become a felony to destroy rape kits until 2009, they were not brought up on criminal charges. To make it worse, the statute of limitation on closed cases was only 3 years at that time.
In 2015 a new tracking system was implemented for the kits and the police said they were going to add the remaining cases in the near future. They will also be completing a case history and analysis form with each kit as they are put into the system.
Of the 333 kits destroyed, 167 were “cold cases.” To be clear, cold cases mean that the rapists were unknown to the victim or at the very least completely unknown to law enforcement and there were no leads for detectives to work from at the time. The only way for the victims of cold cases will ever see justice, is if the evidence in their rape kits are matched to a suspect, now because of this department’s careless actions, that will not happen for Fayetteville’s 167 cold case rape victims — and possibly the other 166 victims, as well.
Those 167 cold case victims are now unable to benefit from any scientific or legal advancements that may happen in the future. 167 daughters, 167 friends, sisters, mothers, or possibly even sons, will never have justice served.
Feature image via liesyoungwomenbelieve.com