CBI backlog delays arrest in date rapes | AspenTimes.com

CBI backlog delays arrest in date rapes

An arrest in a series of alleged date-rape cases in Basalt probably won’t be made for months, if at all, because of the time needed to test evidence, according to authorities.

The suspect, who hasn’t been named by Basalt police, was questioned May 7, and he cooperated by providing hair and blood samples, police said. But the 20-year-old suspect was released after questioning because police didn’t have enough evidence to hold him, according to Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda.

Samples taken from the suspect and victims were sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis. Ikeda said it will take “months” to get a report back from CBI due to the backlog the agency faces in examining evidence.

Ikeda acknowledged that the suspect could leave the area before the analysis of evidence is performed, but he believes the man could still be tracked and eventually found. Police in that situation use the National Crime Index Computer, a network used by law enforcement agencies to list people wanted for arrest.

If the suspect stays in the area, Ikeda said he doesn’t believe he will pose a threat.

“We don’t believe so at this time,” Ikeda said. “We are trying to monitor him somewhat so these crimes won’t continue.”

Recommended Stories For You

The suspect allegedly preyed on the victims on separate occasions while partying at a home in Basalt. The victims were allegedly consuming drugs and alcohol and may have been slipped a so-called date-rape drug that renders them unconscious or incoherent, according to Basalt Detective Steve Wilson.

The man would then take the victims into a bedroom and have sex with them, Wilson said. All the victims were ages 15 and 16 and from the midvalley area.

Two alleged victims have cooperated with police while one has not, said Wilson. He also heard of two other possible victims during his investigation.

Ikeda said he is confident he won’t be facing angry parents of a teenage girl who is taken advantage of after the suspect was identified by police.

“If it was a safety issue we would go forward with the information we have,” he said.

Ikeda said if a threat was perceived, his department would seek a warrant for the suspect’s arrest on the information available now. A judge could possibly be convinced that the suspect should be taken into custody pending results of the CBI lab analysis.

The CBI acknowledges that short staffing and underfunding, combined with time necessary for thorough reviews and caseload, have created the bottleneck in examining evidence.

A Denver Post report on March 24 said evidence in criminal cases is sitting in CBI lockers for months waiting for analysis. “The average turnaround time for DNA evidence is now a minimum four months and more than two months for other items,” the Post reported.

But Ron Arndt, agent in charge of biological sciences at CBI’s Denver lab, said the agency is scrambling to ease the backlog. The number of people examining DNA evidence in the bureau’s three state labs has increased to seven from only two in January 2000.

He also said CBI uses a priority system to try to get to the most important cases first.

“When evidence comes in it’s given a case number,” Arndt said. “They’re lined up according to that number.”

Arndt said he couldn’t discuss a specific case but noted that serial rape cases generally receive a higher priority. However, other factors come into play – such as whether a suspect is in custody or has been identified. In some cases, a “watch” can be placed on the suspect by law enforcement agencies and there isn’t as big of a rush to examine evidence.

Arndt said the big problem facing CBI is there are numerous cases that deserve high priority.

“We try to do our best,” he said. “We try to meet the needs of the communities.”

Ikeda stressed that he understood CBI’s dilemma and didn’t want to come across as criticizing the state agency.

“I know that they have a tremendous caseload,” Ikeda said.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.