Digital Evidence Playing Larger Role Than Ever in Criminal Investigations

NEW HAVEN, Conn (WTNH) — Inside the cyber forensics lab at the University of New Haven, the team is digging into the data of a Fitbit or wearable activity tracker.

It can track routines, steps taken, some can even provide GPS location.

They’re a great asset for keeping in shape, but as it turns out…possibly an even better tool in criminal investigations.

“As a forensic investigator, I would be looking for anything digital. I’d be keeping my fingers crossed,” said Chris Meffert.

It’s a gold mine of personal and physiological evidence.

“We can look ok they ran for a run. It appears they travel this distance, we can look and say ok their heart rate settled for a moment or it spiked,” said Meffert.

Evidence from tech devices continues to play a larger role in the search for justice.

“To try to show what happened – how it happened – when it happened,” said Abe Baggili PhD.

Like the case of Ellington father Richard Dabate.

Dabate is accused of shooting and killing his wife Connie.

Investigators point to the digital story of December 23rd, 2005 using Connie Debate’s Fit Bit information, tracking her every moment.

Richard Debate alleges he used an app on his phone to operate the home security system.

Investigators lay out the digital record of every door opening the Ellington home where Connie Dabate was found dead.

Richard Dabate’s Facebook conversations were pulled, his I-Phone text messages logged word by word.

His computer was scrubbed.

“The fact is that everything that we do has some sort of digital component,” said Baggili.

Back at the University of New Haven cyber forensics lab, the team works to develop software capable of extracting and protecting the deepest information stored on devices.

“The fit bit along with smart watches in general. They know everywhere you go -the devices are always tracking information – that’s changing the game dramatically,” said Meffert.

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