Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Testing old rape kits leading to new indictments

TUCSON – Sex offenders are going to prison because law enforcement agencies are testing old evidence.

The Tucson Police Department used to have about 2,000 untested rape kits. The department received a grant to test them all at a price of $645 each. That has led to 4 new indictments.

A jury just found Nathan Loebe guilty of numerous crimes going back as far as 2003. His indictment had 26 counts including charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and stalking.

Multiple women filed police reports against Loebe over the years. Some even completed sexual assault examinations. Loebe always denied nonconsensual sex, and he was never charged with a crime.

New testing connected Loebe to multiple previously untested rape kits.

Detective Dallas Wilson reopened the old cases.

“His name was brought front and center on being a serial rapist and one of the cases we want to investigate immediately,” Wilson said.

Investigators previously believed it was not worth the expensive testing if the case was not going to court anyway. They often knew whose DNA was going to be found in the kit. That philosophy has changed.

“It is linking suspects, not only from our jurisdiction, but to other jurisdictions and in some cases, other states,” Wilson said.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department still has 468 untested kits.

PCSD Detective Robin Crehan said that does not mean the cases are unsolved. They may have been untested for a variety of reasons.

“There was no crime determined,” Crehan said, “or there was no benefit to be obtained from testing that kit. At the time, the investigation was resolved without the testing.”

PCSD has applied for a federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant. Crehan said that may lead to new indictments.

“We can’t know until we test them,” Crehan said. “But according to current results that law enforcement around the country is getting, there’s a reason for these grants that are being put in place. There is a reason for this additional testing.”

Victims are often referred to Tucson Medical Center for sexual assault examinations. Some nurses are specially trained to complete the rape kits. Representatives showed the News Four Tucson Investigators the complexity of the kits and examinations. They include multiple swabs and possible sources of DNA. The facility even has a specialized camera for documenting evidence of sexual assaults. Those are some of the reasons the kits are so expensive to test.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson - KVOA.
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