A murdered Connecticut woman may not be able to point out the person who killed her, but police say data obtained from her FitBit fitness tracker helped lead to the arrest of her husband.
According to an arrest report [PDF] obtained by the Hartford Courant, in Dec. 2015, the suspect’s husband said he received a notification on his phone that their home’s security system alarm had gone off shortly after he left for work, so he returned home at 9 a.m.
He claims that when he got home he heard a noise upstairs, went to check it out, and found a tall, large man looking through a closet. As they fought, he says he heard his wife return home. The intruder incapacitated him, chased down his wife, and shot her, he told police. He claims he was able to escape by burning the man’s face with a torch he had been using to burn him with, and then managed to crawl upstairs and call 9-1-1.
Though he told police his wife was killed shortly after 9 a.m., cops say her FitBit tracker tells another story: Data from the device shows that her last movements inside the home were at 10:05, an hour after her husband told detectives she’d been murdered. She was wearing the tracker because she had gone to a fitness class at her gym. Surveillance footage supported the FitBit data, showing her leaving the gym around 9:18 a.m. and making a phone call.
More than a year after her murder, investigators used those FitBit records — along with other evidence culled from text messages, emails, and social media accounts — to charge the man with felony murder, tampering with physical evidence and making false statements following his wife’s death.
As we continue to buy products that keep us tied to the internet wherever we go, law enforcement official have started trying to use those connected devices in criminal cases: In March, Amazon agreed to turn over information stored on an Echo speaker located inside a murder suspect’s home. The e-commerce giant had balked at the request initially, claiming that the information on the device is protected by the First Amendment, but gave up the ghost after the defendant in the murder case consented to the disclosure of any such recordings made by the smart speaker.