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Minnesota Detectives Find Missing Girls with Digital Forensics

October 06, 2014  | 

When two 13-year-old Andover, Minn., girls went missing last week, the first place Anoka County Sheriff’s Office detectives looked was for the digital clues in their iPods and smartphones. It worked. The girls were soon found in the basement of a 23-year-old Burnsville man, Casey Lee Chinn, who is now charged with felony criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and solicitation of a child.

 “That [missing girls] case was solved by a detective in the lab, not by any field work or eyewitness accounts. It was digital forensics,” Commander Paul Sommer told the Star Tribune. “It’s become an investigation imperative. You try to find the personal electronics.”

In the case of the missing Andover girls, parents reported their disappearance at 9:36 p.m. Monday. Detective Pat O’Hara searched one of the girl’s iPods found in her room and discovered two weeks of sexually explicit texts with the final text “Be there” received at 8:31 p.m. Monday.

Police were searching the suspect’s home by the next morning.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

TheRookie @ 10/7/2014 12:36 AM

Very well done. Very well indeed. Time to put these perverts in their places(s).

Rafaelito Fraden @ 10/8/2014 8:54 AM

Great way to use the unseen evidence at the scene.

Bill @ 10/9/2014 10:49 PM

It's a good thing this girl didn't have her iPod password protected, If she had, she may have never been found, due to Apple's new non-recoverable encryption. Both Apple and Google should rethink this issue.

Sgt. Mike @ 10/25/2014 2:59 PM

Apple and Google gave this issue great consideration and chose privacy rather than safety. I'm not judging the choice they made, but it will make our work far more difficult for sure.

BTW, when serving search warrants on electronics over the last several years, I've encountered password protected devices. In my experience, it was faster and easier to guess the passwords rather than go around them. If you know them and have general information about them, you might be surprised how easy it is.

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