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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Spokane Police conclude multi-year project to test sexual assault kit backlog

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SPOKANE — Spokane Police have nearly cleared their backlog of untested sexual assault kits, as grant funding concluded last month.

Just 23 of Spokane Police’s 1,404 untested sexual assault kits dating back to 1984 remain untested, pending lab availability, according to a news release from Spokane Police.

Through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative led by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, more than 10,000 kits were submitted for testing. That resulted in 2,000 matches to DNA samples on file with a federal database of convicted criminals called CODIS,

Spokane Police received grant funding through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to investigate the kits. That funding concluded at the end of June.

Four criminal defendants in Spokane were identified during the course of the initiative, according to Spokane Police.

Those defendants include, Scott Raymond Halvorson, a convicted serial rapist who was set to be released from the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center until a 2004 rape kit tested as part of the SAKI program connected him to another assault.

Halvorson is currently awaiting trial on two counts of rape and one count of assault related to the 2004 case.

A Spokane sexual assault kit also led to the cold case arrest of Harold Carpenter for the 1979 killing of Patricia Carnahan in Lake Tahoe.

Carpenter, 63, was living in the Park Tower apartment in downtown Spokane at the time of his arrest. In 1994, a homeless woman in Spokane accused Carpenter of raping her.

Health care workers collected evidence as part of a sexual assault kit in that case. Carpenter was arrested at the time but said the two had consensual sex. Charges were dropped when investigators lost contact with the victim, who has since died.

When investigators submitted the rape kit for testing in 2022, the results matched evidence in the CODIS database from the Lake Tahoe killing.

Funding for the SAKI program ended last month but Spokane Police are still awaiting lab reports in 154 cases. Another 23 kits still need to be tested, pending lab capacity.

Spokane Police plan to evaluate the lab results when they come in.

Throughout the course of the program there were 297 CODIS hits.

Many of those hits reflected the identity of known suspects or previous consensual partners and did not result in new criminal charges, according to a news release.

Victims who have their rape kits tested can find the experience healing or a reminder of a difficult time in their lives, the department said.

Police referred about 65 people to Lutheran Community Services Northwest, a nonprofit that provides advocacy and support for victims and survivors.

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