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Tracking Down a Suspect through Cell Phone Records

Tracking Down a Suspect through Cell Phone Records

In a recent arrest of a serial killer, investigators utilized cell phone records to track down the suspect. The investigation began by analyzing phone records from midtown Manhattan and the Massapequa Park area of Long Island, where a “burner phone” connected to the killings was traced. By narrowing down the records collected by cell towers, investigators were able to reduce the pool of potential suspects to a handful of individuals who matched the suspect’s description. They also focused on individuals who lived in the vicinity of the cell tower and had a connection to a green pickup truck, which was seen by a witness. Eventually, authorities identified Heuermann as the suspect, as he matched the physical description, lived close to the Long Island cell site, and worked near the New York City cell sites. Additional evidence was obtained by comparing DNA from a family member with DNA found on a burlap sack containing one of the buried victims.

This investigation highlights the use of cell phone geolocation data in criminal cases. While this method is not groundbreaking, it demonstrates the process of casting a wide net and then narrowing it down using other evidence and investigative techniques. Currently, this type of investigation is expensive and time-consuming, primarily reserved for major crimes like murder. However, as technology advances and becomes more accessible, it is likely that cheaper digital forensics will be utilized even for routine crimes. This shift towards more widespread use of digital forensics will undoubtedly bring about significant changes in the field of criminal investigations.

Key Points:
1. Investigators used cell phone records to track down a serial killer suspect.
2. The investigation started by analyzing phone records connected to a “burner phone” tied to the killings.
3. Cell tower records were narrowed down to a handful of individuals matching the suspect’s description.
4. The investigation focused on physical description, location, and vehicle connection to identify the suspect.
5. DNA evidence from a family member was compared to DNA found on a victim’s burlap sack to strengthen the case.
6. Cheaper and more accessible digital forensics will likely lead to increased use in routine criminal investigations.

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