The Creation of the Rape Kit

Many Americans likely learned about rape kits from modern television crime dramas. In scenes from popular shows such as “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” a victim lies on a gurney while detectives ask questions and explain that her rape kit will be sent for DNA testing.

The rape kit was developed in the late 1970s as a way to standardize evidence collection.Now a crucial part of any sexual assault investigation, the rape kit was developed in the late 1970s by Chicago Police Sgt. Louis Vitullo. He later became the chief microanalyst for the city’s crime lab.

The kit contained plastic test tubes and swabs for vaginal, rectal and oral smears, individual slides and mailing boxes for the smears, a comb to collect samples of foreign (that is, not from the victim) hair, and nail clippers to salvage evidence from under fingernails. It also included a brown paper bag for victims’ undergarments and clothes, forms for the doctors and police officers involved to complete, sealing tape and a pencil to write on the slides. 

Today’s kits contain virtually the same items, with only minor variations based on specific manufacturers or hospital procedures.

read more here @ Duquesne University


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