In 2019, the Texas Rangers Division applied for, and received, two grants from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The BJA’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grants received by the Texas Ranger Division are for the collection and entry of lawfully owed DNA into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the investigation and prosecution of cold case sexually related homicides and sexual assault cases.
Lawfully Owned DNA Collection
A deficit of DNA samples lawfully owed to the state of Texas by felony offenders and sex offenders currently exists, and SAKI funds are being used to address the collection of these missing samples. By conducting a thorough census on lawfully owed DNA samples from convicted felons and sex offenders and gathering lawfully owed DNA samples, Texas Rangers plan to eliminate the existing deficit while simultaneously identifying the perpetrators of these unknown offenses in the form of CODIS hits upon sample entry to the CODIS database.
The Texas Ranger Division will work with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, TXDPS Crime Records, and the TXDPS Crime Lab to determine the total number of felons and sex offenders who lawfully owe DNA, but have yet to provide their DNA sample. Texas Rangers have identified 3,300 registered sex offenders in Texas who owe the state a DNA sample for entry into CODIS.
Texas Rangers are working closely alongside local law enforcement agencies to collect DNA from sex offenders and qualifying felons who owe a DNA sample for entry into CODIS. As samples are gathered, analyzed, and entered into CODIS, routine CODIS queries will continue to be performed to determine if lawfully owed DNA samples match forensic evidence submitted from crime scenes with DNA previously associated with an “unknown” offender.
In instances where a lawfully owed DNA sample gathered from SAKI efforts results in a CODIS “hit,” Texas Rangers will work alongside external law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to assist with the investigation and prosecution of these cases.
Cold Case Investigation and Prosecution
As of 2019, the state of Texas possesses approximately 35,000 forensic samples in CODIS that have not been associated with a known individual. Further, Texas Rangers have identified unsolved serial sexual assault and sexually related homicide cases in CODIS without an association to a known individual.
Texas Rangers are using SAKI funds to resume investigative efforts on cold cases by outsourcing forensic genetic genealogy testing of DNA samples from unknown offenders linked to sexual assaults and sexually related homicides.
The Texas Rangers will use the information obtained from the tests mentioned above to investigate the cold case and partner with external law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to bring these violent offenders to justice.
SAKI grant funds will also cover costs for other pertinent investigative expenses to identify and prosecute these violent offenders. Texas Rangers remain committed to bringing the perpetrators of these violent crime cold cases to justice.