Google Earth Used To Nab Suspect on the Lam

Posted February 26, 2013 in Crime Your Personal Rights by

Mugshot of Edward JohnsonPolice everywhere must be thankful that crooks and thugs just can’t bear to leave their phones at home. In a recent case, a domestic abuse and kidnapping suspect with a bodacious hairstyle was captured thanks to phone tracking technology and Google Earth.

Edward Johnson, 36, was tracked to a Philadelphia suburb based on location data from two calls he made on his cell phone. Law enforcement officials then pinpointed the specific block he was on using Google Earth.

Johnson was wanted in western Pennsylvania for allegedly assaulting a former partner and kidnapping their baby.

The cops went door to door on the block his calls came from until the found him sleeping on the couch in the home of a woman who identified herself as his mother. The child was unharmed, and Johnson will be shipped back to the other side of the state to face a number of charges.

The local police chief further noted that Johnson’s hairstyle was “bodacious.”


Ubiquitous Phones

The suspect made his capture simple for police in this case.

The ubiquity of cell phones has made them the perfect police tool for tracking both where a suspect has been, and where a suspect might be at a given moment. Through tower transmission data and GPS marking, cell phones leave the equivalent of a “Family Circus” style dotted line of a person’s movements — a crook’s worst nightmare. And as the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed last year, police don’t even need a warrant to pull location data from phone carriers.

Johnson evidently didn’t watch the video on how to keep Big Brother from tracking his movements. Of course, in his case he very well may have been spotted by Google Earth via his hairstyle anyway, even without the supplemental phone data.

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