CrimeChat Sept 26, 2013 Recap: Christa M. Miller returned and discussed digital forensics with us. If there was one thing you should take away from this CrimeChat it is this: nothing is deleted permanently. Even if you delete contact lists on your mobile or email/text messages it is not gone and can be retrieved and/or partially restored.
We started the chat looking into items that people have on their phones. Christa explained that people have far more social media items on the mobile phone than on a desk top/laptop. Instant messages, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking posts are mostly transmitted on mobile phones. Should something happen to someone, this becomes a valuable investigative source. Police will be able to reconstruct the victim’s day, what they did before, how the phone is used after foul play is suspected, etc. Most crucial, by exploring the phone and the social media habits police will be able to establish a person’s pattern/habits and in doing so can explore the deviations.
8News Now explains it in this article: “Every time you carry a cell phone there is a signal that it puts out, which connects to a cell tower pinpointing where you are. Police are using cell phone records to connect the dots putting tracking criminals with great accuracy and putting them at crime scenes. Cell phone records not only show whom criminals called and when, but where they called from.”
From WBTV.com: Graham Kuzia teaches cell phone forensics at Central Piedmont Community College at the schools American Academy of Applied Forensics. He says, new technology can pinpoint the slightest moves. “So when we plug it in, it extracts all the data you can put it on a thumb drive or a hard drive for us.” From there it can be accessed by a computer. ” You can see pretty much anything. Anything that’s on the phone. Currently, any text messages you’ve ever had. Phone calls,”Kuzia said.” Duration of the phone calls. Photos that you may have deleted. Internet history.”
A case we touched in CrimeChat was the murder of Catherine Woods. Paul Cortez’ cell phone was placed near the crime scene. Cortez stated he made cell phone calls to Catherine from his home e.g. he was not near the crime scene. After investigating his cell phone and records, police could trace the cell phone’s position at the time of those calls. It was outside Catherine’s apartment building.
Older mobile devices can pose a challenge as they may not be so easily supported by modern forensic tools but labs are catching up fast. Backlog in digital forensic labs do exist but there are more labs now than 3-5 years ago.
Christa is always willing to answer your questions so if you were not able to join the chat, leave your questions in the comment box and I will let Christa know that she has mail!
UPDATE: Christa posted about the chat here. Until the next CrimeChat!