AKRON, Ohio - The city of Akron is getting nearly $1 million to investigate cold case sexual assaults.
Akron received a federal grant through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.
Akron will create a team of investigators to review, investigate and prosecute cold cases, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The team will consist of three police officers, a victim advocate, a prosecutor and an administrative assistant.
The grant money will also be used to purchase additional supplies and improve technologies to increase the efficiency of investigators.
A case management system database will be designed for the cold case sexual assault investigations.
Several years ago, Akron sent nearly 2,000 kits to BCI for DNA testing. Out of those kits, 975 kits did not return a DNA profile, but additional evidence such as clothing and linens may exist that could be tested. 847 kits returned a possible DNA profile and those cases will be further investigated by the team.
"What we will do is handle them thoroughly, every one of them," said Akron Major Jesse Leeser. "We'll approach them like we would a fresh case, re-interview victims, witnesses and approach each one individually."
Terri Heckman, the CEO of the Akron Rape Crisis Center, said it's very important for a victim advocate to be a part of the project.
"I think there are going to be victims out there who say, 'I don't want to think about it. I put it aside 15 years ago.' And I think there's going to be victims out there who say, 'Thank goodness. For the first time in 15, 20 years, I'm gonna be able to sleep, knowing that you found him and he's behind bars.'"