Mobile Phone Data Used To Place Murder Suspect Near Crime

from the gotcha dept

For years some people have been wondering about the privacy implications of so many people carrying mobile phones. While the courts have (in the past) mostly banned efforts to track someone's location by their phone, police have now used it to add to the pile of evidence they have against one murder suspect. In this case, they found he had made a phone call very near where the body was found, and then used info about which towers his phone was connected to in order to trace his movements. It's likely that we're going to be hearing a lot more of these "post-crime" tracking reports -- and they're going to be even more accurate due to GPS showing up in so many phones.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Gomorrah, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 3:09am

    It can be a good thing too

    Sure, they can trace me through my cell phone. But seriously, do you really think it matters if the police know where I am going? They can do it through other means with all the technology the average person carries around anyway, I just know that if I ever decide to commit murder, do not bring my cell phone.

     

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      identicon
      J. David Boyd, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:56am

      Re: It can be a good thing too

      Then they will say that you look suspicious because you didn't take your cell phone with you that day...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      misswary, Apr 1st, 2006 @ 4:46pm

      Re: It can be a good thing too

      Boy, remind me that if I'm dating a guy, and he refuses to bring his cell, to be on the look-out for the murdering guy you sound like....!!!!!

       

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    identicon
    Matthew, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 4:03am

    Concerned about privacy and mobile-phones? Stick with GSM service. ( T-Mobile, Cingular, Suncom, Uniontel ) As of yet, they don't offer GPS services on their devices and they can only detect someone's location with in a 7-10 mile radius.

     

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    identicon
    Terk, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 4:29am

    You don't need GPS

    You don't need a GPS enabled phone. The cell towers already record your location for billing purposes. This information is simply made available to law enforcement agencies. Add an algorithm or two and you can triangulate the person's location / movement.

     

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    Anonymous, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 4:48am

    Good thing

    We should do everything possible to find criminals and all this privacy stuff should be irrelevent in a perfect society

     

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      identicon
      MR, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 6:16am

      Re: Good thing

      "We should do everything possible to find criminals and all this privacy stuff should be irrelevant in a perfect society"

      Just keep in mind the old ‘slippery slope’ argument. Today it’s tracking people who have committed a felony, tomorrow it could be tracking you because your hanging out with the ‘wrong’ kind of people – maybe the wrong political party – insert whichever name you want.

      The powers that be might not like the fact that you’re a .. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or whatever.

      1984 anyone?

       

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      identicon
      qpsk1half, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:17am

      Re: Good thing

      Then again in a perfect society, we wouldn't need to trace criminals because there wouldn't be any.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:02am

    Right...but who uses your personal cell phone during illegal activity? It is easy and cheap enough to get a throw-away.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      too obvious..., Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:18am

      Re:

      WHO?!? There was a case not too long ago in which a woman drove from up east to Virginia to kill her husband. When arrested, she claimed her sister, whos drivers license she had been carrying was in VA during that time not her. The prosecuter must have laughed for days at this womans stupidity, because he presented cell phone records as evidence:

      Procecuter: Ma'am can you explain why your cell phone records show phone calls made from your phone proceding down the highway from your home up east to Virginia where your husband was killed?
      accussed Killer chick:Sure, my phone was stolen.
      Procecuter:Really?!? can you explain how this unknown person who stole your phone accessed your voicemail 7 times during the drive down the highway to Virginia?
      accussed Killer chick: Uhhhhhmmmmmmm.......

      It seems the old saying that a killer misses many details holds some truth...

       

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    •  
      identicon
      MissWary, Apr 1st, 2006 @ 4:49pm

      Re:

      Hmmmm, you sound too, too clever to me...as if you had been planning to do something like this, and had planned in out in your mind....(what mind?)!!!!
      I won't be dating you, either.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Mike, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:21am

    Perfect Society

    "Privacy stuff should be irrelevant in a perfect society" WTF your and idiot and I hope someone shoots you in the mouth with a flare gun!

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 6:14am

      Re: Perfect Society

      "Privacy stuff should be irrelevant in a perfect society" WTF your and idiot and I hope someone shoots you in the mouth with a flare gun!

      While it was kind of you to correct the spelling of "irrelevant" in your reply, it is less clear how the original poster is more of "and idiot" than you appear to be. You also appear to be directing the "your" at the original post, but "your" is possessive, and not equivalent to "you are". On an interesting side note, one could also argue that you should be threatening to shoot them in the mouth with a flare, and not the entire flare gun. I am not immediately aware of any devices capable of launching the entire gun in the direction of someone's mouth! But that might be splitting too many semantic hairs.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        qpsk1half, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Perfect Society

        I love the way these things degenerate into bashing. That is just the sort of trailer trash behavior that made Jerry Springer rich. Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, Jerry
        Thank you for reaffirming my lack of faith in human nature.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Lunatek, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:59am

        Re: Re: Perfect Society

        Personally Semantics spelling and punctuation aside. Anybody willing to discard personal liberties on the premise of a perfect society should be shot in the mouth with the veritable flare gun.
        The time may come where our freedoms have eroded to the point that people who decided that safety is far more important than liberty will not be able to buy the flare gun to shoot themselves in the mouth. In either regard the comment was Hilarious.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re: Perfect Society

        "On an interesting side note, one could also argue that you should be threatening to shoot them in the mouth with a flare, and not the entire flare gun. I am not immediately aware of any devices capable of launching the entire gun in the direction of someone's mouth! But that might be splitting too many semantic hairs."

        I do believe that would be an improper splitting of hairs. To shoot someone in the mouth, or any other orifice, for that matter, with a flare would infer that you are using a flare to shoot said person. It would be more proper to shoot a flare into their mouth with a flare gun (being a mechanism designed to propel flares). You use the flare gun, not the flare, so I argue that Mike wins that point.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Pablito, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 10:03am

        Re: Re: Perfect Society

        Reading your response to Mike on his attack on "Perfect Society" reminds me of the quip about engaging in "a battle of wits with an unarmed man".
        Thanks for the smile.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Columbo, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:40am

    GPS phones

    Now the smart murderers will use their GPS phones as an alibi. They will just plant their phone in a friend's car or leave it at home while the murder is being committed. I know. . .I'm watching too much Court TV.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Andy, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 6:48am

      Re: GPS phones

      Too much Court TV? Maybe ;-) Except you're right - and it goes both ways. I trust they had plenty of solid evidence other than this to convict - all it could prove is that the guy's PHONE was 'near' the murder scene.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Dan, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:23am

      Re: GPS phones

      I agree...except they'll also be recording your conversations for "quality control purposes." When your alibi doesn't match your location data, time stamps, and voice recordings you'll be hosed.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    randomboy, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:43am

    we might not live in a perfect society ...

    ...but privacy is still becomming more and more of a thing of the past, wether we like it or not.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    another way to lose our freedom!!!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    anonymous, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Someone can get falsely accused. S/He can be sent to jailed or get the death penalty for making a call at the wrong place and time.

     

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    identicon
    TriZz, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:07am

    Really.

    If the guy commited murder, I don't care how they catch him.

    And - if he didn't do it, then he shouldn't care.

    Essentially, all evidence acquired is either going to prove or disprove his innocence.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:16am

    If someone murdered your daughter and they were able to compile more evidence and ultimately convict the murderer by means of tracking his cell phone use would you still be mad that this information is available to the authorities?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    robert, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:19am

    I dont plan on killing anyone soon so I like this idea of being able to track people.. it would also be cool if parents could use this to track their kids via internet like an extra monthly service.. I know violating rights crap blah blah they are young and dumb they dont have many rights lol... and this is comming from someone who is 20. Ok I am done getting off topic..

    As for the whole flare gun issue.. do you say i am going to cap you with my shotgun shell... no you say i am going to shoot you with my shotgun.. I dont think you can even split the hair on that one.. sorry

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:40am

      Re:

      Robert. Even though i think you're a communist for thinking we should be tracked by our cell phones, I agree with you about the flare gun. "Violating rights crap". LMAO. Those rights are the very thing that makes our country what it is. Now I'm not one of those rednecks with American flags all over my pickup truck (or worse, a confederate flag). I know the US has a few (Ok. More than a few) problems. But these rights are the only thing seperating the US today and Communist China. Haha. Now they can't even read this post in China. Too many people use criminal justice as an excuse to invade someone's privacy. And what's more, someone's constitutional rights.

      Forensics today are more than adequate enough to catch a criminal without using techniques that could possibly impact constitutional rights of our Citizens. I would like to backhand the district attorney that thought it would be a good idea to subpoena Google for a search history.

      The government doesn't need cell phones to know where we are. If they care enough, they will know where you are at all times. Besides. What do you think that little chip in your left forearm is for? (queue X-Files Theme...)

      And I really hope my grammar and punctuation was good enough for everyone. I proofread even. I don't want to get flamed by all the other children that hate themselves.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    MissingFrame, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:23am

    Speeding fines inc!

    Dear Driver,
    According to the records supplied by your telephone service provider, it has been determined that you have been going 36 MPH in a zone designated at 35 MPH or less. This letter is to inform you that the fine of $64 has been added to your next phone bill and your insurance company has been notified of the infraction.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Sgt. Fury, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:47am

      Re: Speeding fines inc!

      Amen Brother!!!

      You just hit the proverbial nail on the head!

      While I agree with the premise that a prosecutor should utilize all available resources to convict the 'bad guys', we have begun sliding down the slippery slope toward the 24/7 surveilance society, and that can only mean abuses and overextensions of authority.

      I am just waiting for the first use of material gathered from our new 'universal domestic wiretap' (Patriot Act) to convict a marijuana dealer or car thief, or any other non-terrorist activity. Yes, a criminal is a criminal, but by the same token inalienable rights are inalienable rights and mine are getting trampled upon in the pursuit of this mythical idea of a "safe society"!

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Ponder, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 8:52am

    Rules for Murders

    1. Do not use your mobile while comiting the murder, or traveling to or from it. Don't even take it.
    2. Do not use any electronic communications inc. dial up internet access.
    3. Travel all the time under false names and in disguie. This should be changed along the journey, so 'Fred Smith' didn't travel from your apartment to the crime scene and back.
    4. Do not use any debit or credit cards.
    5. Do not use money off vouchers, discount cards etc. They location they are used at can be tracked.
    6. Avoid all CCTV cameras.
    7. Do not use a car-even hire cars can often be tracked.
    8. Do not travel by public transport due to CCTV cameras.
    9. Get in and out quickly to avoid being seen/caught.
    10. Destory all evidence at the crime scene, or once you have finished with it for disgues, so that it cannot be traced. (Harder than is often thought).

    Anyone who can do all but 1 needs to be locked up as an idiot or a homocidal genius. If you need mobile phone data to help convict a suspect, use it. Like statistics, it should be used like a drunk uses a streetight, for support rather than illumination.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    wolff000, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:01am

    Freedom Never Was

    We never really had freedom. The only people that do live in tiny little villages. They do what they want when they want. On avaerage hunter gather tribes only work 3-4 hours a day. They have no bills and no real set of laws. They simply know what to do and what you shouldn't do to other people. When I say what to do I am only referring to the tasks that need to be done to keep thier tribe going, ie hunting, fixing hits, etc. Freedom is not possible in our social structure. If you think you are free try to walk into a burger joint and pee on the counter. See how free you are after that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2007 @ 1:55am

      Re: Freedom Never Was

      I guess you have a great point, the small tribes that had an avrage life of 25-30 had it a lot better than the modern Americans today. Also they had a lot better dental care, since most didn't have ant teeth by age 18. Well I guess I could go on and on about this, but you figure a better life than you have now in any small town. The power in the world comes from larg-scale economics. Not populations of 800 people in a large farm home.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:26am

    Wait until your wife can find out that your cell phone was by the Spearmint Rhino, not your office.

    Personaly, I would rather see a few murderers go free rather than give my wife access to that info.

     

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      identicon
      MissWary6, Apr 1st, 2006 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      MissWary, Apr 1st, 2006 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      So that was YOU on Riverside Avenue, throwing your cell into that other guy's car. I saw you choking that woman, but actually, she had the strangest smile on her face....like she was enjoying it.

      Next time a guy is throwing a cell phone into another car, I'll be on the phone calling....my broker, EF Hutton.

      Later....

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 10:09am

    I thought this "determine the cell phone's location" was only for when you call 911....when/how did they sneak in this additional privacy violating stuff?

    I'm sorry, but if my location is continuously recorded in my cell phone records and not just when I call 911, then it's going to be abused/misused.

    For example, look at these companies that will sell you a list of calls made to/from *any* cell phone without the owner's permission for $100? There isn't even a law preventing this! (one is in the works, but I didn't hear anything about also making a new law to prevent companies from selling your cell-phone location data)

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      Calm down... I understand your outrage, i'm sure most do. The thing is that your location isn't being monitored and documented in a data base somewhere - EXCEPT when you make/recieve/are on a call. This is for billing purposes. Even when you have ld included in your svc, the system is configured to capture billing specific location info. As far as your info being avail online? Most if not all carriers have rules governing the release of such info. I'm not sure how much is regulated, but it's good for customer perception too. The thing is that just like many of the personal info breaches that have occured lately, employees are following directives and in some cases are directly involved in theft of personal info. There will always be irresponsible/lazy/dishonest employees of cell carriers, but until there are real consequences for these breaches they will continue unabated. So I do agree with your main point which seems to be that we need good legislation with teeth...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    David, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 7:06am

    ebony teen lesbians amateur videos

    This is the world's largest sex portal, it presents tons of XXX vids: farmer's sex movies-san diego, calif. Have a nice day!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    abbie titsmarsh, Jun 19th, 2007 @ 8:16am

    i guess you should all suck my balls

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Patel Maulik Ghanshyambhai, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 5:10am

    Patel bhai

    Jay Shee mahakali matay namh

     

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