Smart devices help us do a lot in our daily lives. But, increasingly, police have found that the data they record can be extremely useful in murder investigations.
In one case, data from a Middlesbrough, England man’s iPhone Health app helped thwart his plot to collected more than $2.5 million in life insurance after murdering his wife.
Mitesh Patel, 37, strangled his wife Jessica on May 14 after five years of allegedly planning her murder, The Washington Post reported. Patel had plotted to start a new life with his boyfriend in Australia and use frozen embryos from in vitro fertilization treatment that Jessica was undergoing to start a new family.
Patel told police he had gone for a walk on the night of Jessica’s murder and came home to find her lying motionless in the living room. He alleged that burglars had broken in and killed her.
But his plot had begun to unravel from the beginning. Authorities noticed no evidence of forced entry and Patel’s security camera’s hard drive hidden in a suitcase under the bed.
According to local media, some of the key pieces of evidence came from the couple’s iPhones.
Reportedly, Jessica’s iPhone Health app recorded no movement after Patel left the house — except for 14 steps, attributed to Patel taking her iPhone and dropping it outside to make it seem like burglars had left it behind.
Patel’s iPhone, on the other hand, recorded “frantic activity” as the man rushed around the house to make it look like someone had broken in.
Jessica had known about Patel’s extramarital affairs, which became a source of deep tension for the couple. In several text exchanges, Patel told her they would have to “part ways” if she decided not to go through with the IVF treatments.
Patel’s search history seemed to reveal what he meant by that. Police also found various queries related to strangulation, the effects of insulin (which he had injected in her to subdue her), and whether a life insurance policy pays when someone is murdered.
On Wednesday, a UK court sentenced Patel to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years, The Guardian reported.
This isn’t the first time that a smart device has provided crucial evidence in murder investigations.
Back in March, data from an Apple Watch contradicted an Australian woman’s story after she murdered her mother-in-law. In January, German police used data from a man’s iPhone to link him to the rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman.