DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Some have waited decades for justice, but now there is movement in many of the sexual assault cases where evidence previously never made it to a lab for testing.
"One victim in particular [...] she just thought nothing had ever happened because they didn't believe her," said Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Schiefer.
State legislators passed a law in 2016 that required law enforcement and other agencies to turn over all rape kits to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation after it was discovered that thousands were sitting untested on evidence room shelves across the state.
As of September 5, the GBI had tested more than 2,500 of those kits. Officials say 342 of the submitted DNA samples matched profiles already in the national DNA database known as CODIS and of those, 162 are currently active investigations.
"We are seeing real progress now," explained GBI Spokeswoman Nelly Miles.
Some of that progress is thanks to the new Metro Atlanta Cold Case Sexual Assault Task Force, which formed in May as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Task Force includes the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, the Atlanta Police Department, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, and the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) State Expert Committee.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said being part of the Task Force allows them to share valuable information with other partners.
"We've discovered over the years that people who commit sexual assaults don't usually stop at one," said Reynolds. "They tend to continue to commit them and so we have an obligation in the system to find out who those people are."
According to Schiefer, Cobb County agencies turned over about 600 sexual assault evidence kits to the GBI for testing. About a hundred have returned CODIS hits. So far, they have obtained arrest warrants in several of those cases.
She said the first Cobb County case that will likely go to trial as result of the testing is against Ricky Remon Moss. A grand jury indicted him in May for rape, aggravated sexual battery, and false imprisonment for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in December 1998.