SLC Police arrest man in decade old sexual assault case after connecting him to DNA evidence from rape kit

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SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Police announced an arrest in a 12-year-old sexual assault case – thanks to a DNA match from a rape kit.

Utah is clearing a huge backlog of untested rape kits.

“Since July of 2018, 3,483 un-submitted, untested sexual assault kits have been submitted to the crime lab,” said Krystal Hazlett, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative site coordinator.

As a result, officials have identified 402 suspects. Today, one DNA test led to the arrest of Frank Benavidez. The attack happened in Glendale in July 2006. The victim was just 16 years old.

"This particular kit had been submitted back originally when the offense had happened. It had been partially tested, partially screened and at that point had gone into kind of a hiatus or it had just stopped testing,” said Jay Henry, laboratory director with the Utah Dept of Public Safety.

Police are still looking for a second suspect who may have been driving a red, two-door Honda, possibly with a black hood.

“If you have any information in this case, we ask that you call SLCPD,” said Detective Keith Horrocks with Salt Lake City Police.

Benavidez is a known gang member and has been serving a life sentence in prison since 2008. He was charged with the murder of a 7-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting.

This all started with the victim making one call to the Sexual Assault Kit Information line. The resource launched in July 2017 to help victims find out what happened to their rape kits.

“We want to commend this survivor for her courage, her resiliency, and her strength at this time,” said Lauren DeVries, Sexual Assault Victim Kit Advocate.

The victim doesn’t want to put her name out there, but hopes other survivors will take that first step, which can lead to more DNA matches and more arrests.

“These are the types of cases we’re hoping to continue to bring to fruition and get our victims some results,” Horrocks said.

To contact the Sexual Assault Kit Information Line call 801-893-1145, or visit their website.

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