Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.
In one especially horrific case, Worthy says, a convicted rapist named Shelly Andre Brooks had raped and murdered five women after raping a woman whose kit was just recently entered into the database through Worthy’s initiative. If that rape kit had been tested and entered into the database sooner, the man could have been caught sooner—and five women’s lives could have been saved. “That’s why it’s so horrible, this whole thing,” Worthy says.