The Albuquerque Police Department is starting to clear the backlog of untested rape kits, and it’s not bringing the closure some had hoped. One woman waited nearly 15 years for her kit to be tested only to learn it holds no evidence.
“It’s just so unfair to me, and other women like me,” said Sue Wasson.
Wasson’s rape kit was among the thousands sitting on a shelf in APD’s rape kit backlog. She said she was first assaulted in 2003, taken from her then-apartment near Copper and Tramway.
“He shoved me in the car and I was taken and assaulted by these two men,” said Wasson.
That rape kit was tested within months, but it didn’t provide enough evidence to move forward. However, the next year, in 2004, she said one of the same men attacked her again while at a gas station.
“And repeatedly raped me, with a gun,” she said.
Another DNA swab was taken at that time, but years passed with no answers. She started to give up.
“Put your life on a shelf basically and let it sit there and rot,” said Wasson.
In 2009, APD’s chief at the time, Ray Schultz, addressed why they had a backlog.
“A clear majority are not, or have not been processed because the victim specifically…the victim, did not want to prosecute,” said Ray Schultz in November 2009 interview.
But Wasson said that was never the case with her.
“I wanted to prosecute. As scared as I was, I wanted this person caught,” she said.
When APD finally began tackling the testing backlog last year, Wasson’s 14-year-old kit was finally tested.
“Unfortunately there wasn’t any evidence to help me,” she said.
Again, there was no justice. Still, she wishes she had known this sooner. KRQE News 13 asked APD what happened in her case.
“It’s possible that someone dropped the ball and it never got tested,” said APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos.
With those who handled Wasson’s case long gone, APD can’t know for sure. That’s why Gallegos said they’re testing every kit, no matter the situation.
“We want to give every victim an opportunity for justice,” said Gallegos.
Although Wasson will never see that justice, she does want to see if for others.
“The thing that keeps me going is trying to help other survivors to try and get their kits tested,” she said.
So far, APD has sent out around 3,000 of the untested rape kits. They started with more than 5,000.
Gallegos said they are also in the process of hiring two new sex crimes detectives to focus on these cases.