RICHFIELD -- State investigators testing thousands of decades-old sexual assault kits as part of Attorney General Mike DeWine's initiative say Elias Acevedo is "the tip of the iceberg" in uncovering serial offenders.
"These old cases are getting a second look. There could be another Acevedo out there," said Special Agent Robert Surgenor with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations. "There could be another serial rapist that maybe hasn't been brought to justice yet."
The BCI lab in Richfield is testing kits from around the state.
"The case is about what is inside the box," said Assistant Lab Director Michael Velten.
And for some, 20 years after the crime, there's justice. Why now? The resources are there and, finally, so is the technology.
"If you did not know who your perpetrator was back in the 90s, it was almost impossible to go ahead and connect your case to someone," said Velten. "That's what the power of databasing is and DNA is."
Starting in October 2012, Dewine's Sexual Assault Kit testing initiative, or SAK, has offered free DNA testing to any law enforcement agency in the state.
So far more than 1,500 kits have been tested, and more than 50 people have been indicted in Cuyahoga County alone. When the AG's office started the initiative, investigators anticipated 4,000 kits would be tested.
Now the number keeps growing and could top 9,000 untested kits before reaching current cases. BCI has hired six additional forensic scientists to focus on the testing of old kits.
"The success of what we've done and been able to do with these rape kits and the hits we've been able to get, I think has spurred interest in all municipalities to go ahead and look to see what type of testing, or things they did not have tested that could be submitted here," said Velten.
October was a record-setting month with DNA tests resulted in more than 300 investigative leads. Those leads, whether evidence that matches an individual already in the CODIS database or forensic profiles that connect separate cases, are turned over to detectives for review.
"Just getting a DNA hit doesn't mean that that case is solved," said Surgenor. "We have to do the old-fashioned police work. We have to go out and investigate."
They've started with the oldest cases still within the 20-year statute of limitations on rape to give special agents time to build a case.
Three BCI agents work inside the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty's office at all times. Out of more than 4,525 kits submitted to the BCI, 2,076 came from the Cleveland Police Department.
One 1993 rape case linked to Acevedo in June. Acevedo, a convicted sex offender who was found living on Seymour Avenue, has now been linked to at least two other cases.
He currently faces nearly 300 charges in the unsolved murders of Christina Adkins and Pamela Pemberton. He's being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $5 million bond.
"He's one of many. He's the tip of the iceberg, basically of the types of people that we're going to find," said Surgenor.