Richard Thompson
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News South Sound Bureau Chief

POSTED: 4:07 pm PDT May 3, 2007
UPDATED: 8:27 pm PDT May 3, 2007

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- It's a new way to break through the backlog and get justice for women raped by strangers.
So many victims live in fear while the DNA evidence that could lead to their attackers sits on a crime lab shelf.
South Sound Bureau Chief Richard Thompson takes you inside a new project, getting results in record time.
That's welcome news for a mother of a young rape victim.
"She said a man came to her room," said the mother of an 11-year-old rape victim.
A mother's heart aches as Lewis county Sheriff's deputies converge on a neighborhood near Centralia after a stranger enters her home and rapes her daughter.
"I was scared and I came to my daughter and I start holding her and talking to her," the mother said. "She's afraid to be alone."
Investigators canvass the neighborhood and come up with several strong leads.
"We developed possible persons of interest possible suspects," said Det. Matt Wallace of the Lewis County Sheriff's Office. "We collected from them DNA evidence."
Only our cameras were there as DNA evidence collected from the girl and the possible suspects was shipped out for immediate testing -- but not to our state's backlogged crime labs, where the wait would simply be far too long.
"The State Patrol crime lab does an excellent job of getting us our evidence," Wallace said. "But they're backlogged they're so overwhelmed by cases they get from all over the state that there's a significant delay in getting results back."
Instead the DNA evidence from the Centralia rape arrives at Orchid Cellmark a private lab near Dallas.
Scientists immediately begin processing the evidence as one of the very first cases sent here as part of the Stranger Rape Project -- $750,000 in federal money to get DNA evidence in stranger rapes in our state tested within weeks instead of months or longer.
"The Stranger Rape Project is basically an attempt to catch up with all the backlog," said Steve Whybark, director of the Stranger Rape Project.
"It's about damn time," said Jessica Liederbach.

click link for full version