SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Provo police are tracking a new suspect in an unsolved 2008 rape case after public scrutiny helped spur new funding to analyze a backlog of untested rape kits in the state.
Police gathered evidence from the woman after the attack, but it wasn't submitted to the FBI for analysis until this year because of a funding shortage, The Daily Herald of Provo reported (http://bit.ly/1Q9Cedz ).
But as cost of DNA testing decreases and public calls to tackle the evidence backlog increase, the department received new funding to tackle about 30 shelved kits.
The case is an example of why it's important to test every rape kit, Rape Recovery Center Executive Director Holly Mullen told The Associated Press on Thursday. "They are essential evidence. They make a difference to the victim of sexual assault and help provide closure," she said.
In the Provo case, a woman told police she had been staying in a motel in November 2008 when two men staying next door came over to visit, according to charging documents. After she complained about sore hips, one of the men offered to give her a massage. She refused, but he began to roughly rub her back anyway, and then raped her, authorities say.
Provo Police Lt. Brandon Post says their analysis identified 36-year-old Arlando Barton, whose DNA was already in an Arizona criminal database.
The woman never got the man's name. The trail went cold for seven years, until an FBI report identified Barton's DNA from the rape kit in June.
A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Police say his last known address was in Arizona.
The Associated Press sought comment from Barton, but no lawyer was listed for him in court records, and there was no publicly listed phone number for him.
Previously, police weren't testing the DNA evidence in every case, citing the cost and pointing out that in some cases they didn't need it because there was enough other evidence to convict.
But even in those cases, testing the kits is important because it gets suspects' DNA into a criminal database that can make it easier to solve cases in the future, advocates say.
That's why the Unified Police Department of Salt Lake County has submitted its entire backlog of 400 kits to be tested, both from open cases and those have already been solved, Lt. Lex Bell said. Though they haven't gotten any new leads on active cases, the DNA from the closed cases could help solve new crimes in the future, Bell said.
In West Valley City, the results from six untested rape kits have matched profiles already in the database, spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com