Extracted Google Location Data Proves Turning Point in Solving Homicide Case
In the Netherlands, the death of a husband and father of three outside a music festival remained a mystery for five months until digital data surfaced incriminating evidence. The victim’s Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, as well as other digital sources, were found to contain key evidence that established a possible motive and potential suspect.
With Cellebrite Physical Analyzer solution, law enforcement accessed the mobile data urgently needed to move the stalled case forward, but all praise goes to the digital investigators who expertly identified the digital evidence that led to the arrest of the suspect.
This case is a great example of an agency using a Digital Intelligence strategy to transform their investigative process to deliver breakthroughs when there is no hard evidence.
Extracted Google Data Establishes Premeditation
Data from victim Tjeerd van Seggeren’s cell phone was compared with his wife’s mobile phone data. This allowed investigators to compare their timelines, tracked locations, and communication records. This information later became the basis for the wife’s arrest and subsequent prosecution for murder.
After analyzing Google Chrome browser data from the wife’s iPhone 6S, investigators found queries searching for “drinking insulin.” Had the wife been gathering information on how she might poison her husband? (An article in deVolskrant stated that the husband had been very ill previously and had told acquaintances that he suspected his wife wanted to poison him.)
The husband’s phone revealed several references to “cancel plastic surgery operation.” The wife’s upcoming plastic surgery was later found to be a source of marital disputes between the couple and a large strain on their finances.
Google geolocation data that pinpointed the wife’s whereabouts quickly dismantled her initial alibi with decisive location mapping that put her within five meters of where her husband was waiting to meet her and later found dead.
In addition, the wife had claimed that she had left her phone in her car as a result of a low battery while she searched for her husband at their designated meeting point. This was refuted by data logs that showed her phone had been intentionally switched off. This was suspicious as she did not call her husband while searching for him even though she later said she could not locate him.
Without the above supporting digital evidence and evidence found from other digital sources, the map and timelines of events would not have been realized with such speed.
Digital Intelligence is more than data
A Digital Intelligence strategy, like the one employed in this investigation, encompasses more than just accessing digital evidence. It is about having the ability to map and understand the journeys of a victim and suspect before, during, and after a crime. In this case, digital data was used to construct a clear picture of how and why a murder took place, which focused the investigation on a relevant suspect.
Even without a weapon, witness, and limited physical evidence, law enforcement still has a resource in digital evidence for investigations in danger of turning into cold cases.
More than just being about technology, a Digital Intelligence strategy is about equipping investigative teams with the training and support that gets the most out of all the digital data to have an impact on the resolution of investigations.
Investigators in this homicide case were able to:
- Use GPS data to determine that the victim’s wife was not being completely truthful about her whereabouts at the time of the murder.
- Track the communications between the victim and his wife to find an unusual level of activity prior to the murder.
- Compare location data to determine that the victim and his wife were only a short distance away from each other at the time of his murder, which stood in direct contrast to the wife’s story.
Digital Intelligence for a safer world is our mission and we are proud of the impact our solutions, training, and support are having in communities all over the world.
Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence Solution provides:
- Timely access to digital data anytime, anywhere, throughout every aspect of an investigation.
- AI-powered Cellebrite Pathfinder to analyze insights and find hidden connections among seemingly unconnected people, places, and events to resolve cases faster.
- Data management tools that allow you to integrate digital evidence into diverse systems while meeting privacy and security requirements.
- Training from leading digital forensic experts with decades of digital investigation experience to assist you with your most challenging investigations.
Our integrated solutions ensure digital data is leveraged effectively at every point of the investigative process, creating greater insights that can help you achieve your outcomes quickly.