FitBit and Wearables Proving to be a Valuable Tool in Forensics

Robert BuheckerForensic Cases In The News

Forensics on FitBit Help Solve a Murder

FitBits and Wearable Technology Prove to Be A Valuable Tool for Solving Crime

Technology is proving to be a valuable source for law enforcement. The information contained on the digital devices we carry provide very personal insights of our daily habits. It’s no surprise that fitness wearables, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices are the first places investigators look regarding crimes or locations. In fact, the information on Fitbits has been able to solve murder cases and other types of investigations

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What might have been a lengthy murder trial ended quickly when heart rate data from the victim’s Fitbit and security camera footage was used to solve the case. Karen Navarra, 67, was found dead in her home during Sept. 2018. The killer, her 90-year-old stepfather, Anthony Aiello, who arrived at her home with pizza. Once her body was discovered, and the investigation was underway, law enforcement interviewed Aiello, who said his stepdaughter then walked him to the door and handed him two roses in gratitude, after the meal. When police obtain the search warrant for the Fitbit device, they were able to examine the heart rate function of the device which spiked during the time of the alleged crime. When they compared the device’s heart rate information to the security video footage, they were able to come to the conclusion of who murdered Navarra.

FitBits and Wearable Technology Prove to Be A Valuable Tool for Solving Crime

The Santa Clara County District Attorney, Jeff Rosen stated to The New York Times, “From doorbell security footage to Fitbit, technology engineered to solve some of life’s issues are solving serious crimes,” The benefits of a computer and digital forensic investigation can assist with many crimes, including murder. Rosen continued his quote by saying, “We are continually inspired by law enforcement investigators who are thinking outside of the box.”

Brian Meeker, a San Jose Police Officer confronted Aiello with the information that was found on the Fitbit. He states in the official report, “After explaining the abilities of the Fitbit to record time, physical movement, and heart rate data, he was informed that the victim was deceased prior to his leaving the house.”

Similar to most mobile devices, the information on them is synced to another source or cloud. The San Jose police stated in their investigation that Ms. Navarra’s Fitbit was worn on her left wrist and synchronized the information about her daily activities with a computer in her home.

In addition to this case, the data collected from wearables helped solve a sexual assault case in 2015. Fitbit activity helped expose the case as false and saved law enforcement from spending a lengthy amount of time on it. The 2015 sexual assault case resulted in police discovering that there was no sexual assault that occurred due to the data on a Fitbit which proved otherwise to the claims made. In 2017, a murder in Connecticut was solved with the data contained on a Fitbit. The evidence on the device, paired with gunshot residue and sniffer dogs. Her Fitbit, however, recorded her last movement alive. To support the evidence traditional methods collected, law enforcement was able to discover that the murderer was her husband.

How can private digital and computer forensic examiners help with criminal cases?

A computer and mobile forensic investigation, especially one conducted by a private digital forensic firm, like Secure Forensics, can aid in criminal and civil cases alike. Secure Forensics has computer forensic examiners with decades of experience related to computer and mobile forensics. We are also the most certified and all of our investigations and the information we gather is backed by a FIPS level 3 certification and a single and preserved chain of custody. We have the abilities to perform data recovery in our Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanrooms and utilize industry-leading software to collect the evidence quickly.

There are some cases when law enforcement does not have the knowledge or the resources for collecting digital evidence from devices. This means that digital evidence can be damaged, or considered tampered with and leave it inadmissible in court. A third party, like Secure Forensics, knows how to properly collect the evidence and preserve the data to ensure its authenticity. The reports we provide you and the evidence the reports contain are always backed by our certifications which means judges and juries trust our findings to be reliable and 100 percent accurate.

Digital evidence continues to assist in legal battles and the murder of Karen Navarra is no different. To collect the evidence from a Fitbit when someone is not wearing it, a search warrant must be served. However, no warrant is needed when someone is arrested and wearing the device, at the time of the arrest. Secure Forensic has the capabilities and the tools to extract the evidence not only stored on the device but also the computer the device syncs with, too.

Contact Us For any Digital and Computer Forensic need.

Secure Forensics is more than capable of handling many different digital and computer forensic cases. We work with personal computer users, businesses of all sizes and government agencies to assist with cases that range from cheating spouses, whistleblowers, corporate espionage and everything in between. Regardless of the case, whether it be criminal, civil or related to a data breach, we will help you find the answers you need. Call us today at 1-800-288-1407 for a free phone consultation and to start your case today.