Hint: If You Commit A Crime, Do Not Google Every Aspect Of It Afterwards

from the isn't-this-obvious? dept

Techdirt has reported on a number people accused of murder googling for things like "neck snap break" or "how to commit murder" beforehand, and leaving these suggestive details on their computers. Those were some years back, and since then there has been plenty of attention given to the idea that your search histories provide a great deal of information about what you were thinking - and possibly even what you were thinking about doing.

So you would expect people by now would have learned to be a little more cautious for example, by carrying out searches anonymously at different Internet cafes. But the story of Vincent Tabak, whose case is currently going through UK courts, suggests that message still hasn't got across. The court has been hearing about his intensive use of the Internet to research a range of topics after killing a woman called Joanna Yeates (he admits manslaughter, but denies murder):
The 33-year-old defendant ... looked up satellite imagery of the site where he dumped Yeates's body. He researched the Wikipedia page for murder and maximum sentence for manslaughter, web records from work and personal laptops showed.

While regularly checking the Avon and Somerset police website and local news site www.thisisbristol.co.uk, the Dutch engineer was also checking decomposition rates.

Days after killing Yeates at her Clifton flat on 17 December, Tabak was watching a timelapse video of a body decomposing, Bristol crown court heard.
That's a reminder of just how much detailed information about past Internet activity can be gleaned from computers, and how incriminating that might be in certain circumstances. On the other hand, perhaps we should be grateful that people committing crimes are still making it so easy to convict them on the basis of their tell-tale online activity.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Filed Under: crime, evidence, searches

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2011 @ 7:13pm

    I hope this is not the only evidence he was sentenced for, it doesn't seem that strong.

    If you heard of a murder what would you do?
    Would you look up the location of that murder on Google maps?
    I know I did it a couple of times.

    If you were accused of anything would you not look up what could happen to you?
    I saw a lot of people googling about copyright infringement and what it means.

    This is not to say the guy is not guilty at this point I really don't know and it may be fun to accuse him of wrong doing, but one hopes that the evidence against him is a lot more stronger than just internet searches.

    I have searched for decomposing bodies, murders and stories about murders, graphic photographs and more, I hope that can't be used alone to convict me of anything.

    Using real crime stories as templates for other stories also are not a bad idea.

    You get a name.

    Then find the database where you can probably find more info about that case.
    http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm (FBI crime database)

    And read about it. Great source for inspiration, I once found the story of a guy who build a house that was full of secret rooms and he brought in a lot of people over the years people only discovered that he was killing people after he died and they found hundreds of remains inside the house walls. I like horror stories and I could picture a creature killing people in their houses coming out at night from the walls after reading that piece of history.

    I also searched for a lot of weird things like medical images about diseases because I wanted to make 3D models of them and see how they looked like, could anyone say that I am fascinated with death? probably, but does it mean I would kill anybody? I want to believe it is outside of that possibility personally I go to extremes to evade a confrontation, but others can't see that or feel and so what they see is strange and could be viewed as dangerous but is it?

    On the funny side this is what happens when people get overboard with laws.
    Crazy mayor(Vilnius - Lithuania) uses APC to crush illegal parked cars.


    Again, I don't know if the guy is guilty or not, just that all that alleged evidence can have more simple explanations and that alone should not be viewed as prove of any wrong doing alone, it needs more than just that.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.