Deputies: Technology Playing Bigger Role in Investigations

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A rape caught on a cell phone video, hard drives with traces of child porn--Mesa County deputies say technology is playing a bigger role in investigations but the key is staying ahead of the criminals.

Mesa County investigators say the use of cell phone records, GPS devices to track down criminals is growing.

67–year–old Rodney Eddy is a former substitue teacher facing several sexual assault charges after investigators say he forced a girl to watch porn and molested her.

33–year–old Matthew Lindholm used to coach basketball at Central High School until he was arrested and convicted for sexual assault on a child for kissing a student in his office and sending text messages to the victim.

51-year-old Miriam helmick is charged with murdering her husband, Alan, in their whitewater home.

Three very different cases with one thing in common--technology..

Investigators say cell phones or computers played a key role in building their cases.

Sergeant Henry Stoffel has been a criminal investigator for 13 years and says a lot has changed since he started. He says it used to be about processing the crime scene, "The fingerprints, the DNA, the hair and fibers," Stoffel told 11 News on Friday.

Now it's very different, "We're able to use another instrument as electronics and electronic devices to help prove these crimes."

Stoffel says with cell phones and computers there is always a record.

"The one thing about that electronic trail is it doesn't lie, it doesn't have any biases and it's not going to fabricate anything it's telling us."

In the most recent case, investigators say that trail will be the most powerful piece of evidence.

18–year–old Brandon Locke is facing several charges. Deputies say he raped a girl at a party while someone recorded it on their cell phone camera.

"It's now evidence as any fingerprint of DNA would be in another case. What better evidence can you present to a jury of the actual crime being committed?"

But even though digital devices can leave a lot behind, those devices are always chaning and new technology means new training.

"Criminals are getting smarter and law enforcement needs to stay fluent in the technology," said Stoffel.

Investigators say while digital forms of evidence can work to their advantage. it' doesn't mean a slam dunk in finding a suspect.

Old fashioned methods of interviewing witnesses and collecting physical evidence won't likely be replaced with cell phone records any time soon.

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