Crime scene in the forest: Yellow police line do not cross tapeWhen the nearly naked dead body of a 28-year-old male was discovered in a wooded area near a lake, the local sheriff’s department requested an autopsy, announced that a large amount of heroin was found in the young man’s blood stream and treated the death as a drug overdose. Quickly, the case was closed.

Although the grieving family members were enraged at the actions of local authorities, they gathered to bury the young father of three. But in the weeks following the funeral, they soon discovered that they could not let go of the case. They did not believe the conclusions drawn so quickly by the Sheriff’s department. After all, this young man, called Chip by family and close friends, had absolutely no history of drug use.

Family members wanted justice. But they also wanted to clear his name. After all, one day Chip’s very young children would grow up and ask questions about how their father died. When law enforcement officers refused to reopen the case, the family contacted an attorney who called .

When our investigators took the case, we began to interview Chip’s close friends and relatives. It didn’t take long to discover that Chip had a secret romantic relationship with a woman named Caroline, who happened to be the Sheriff’s married daughter. According to three of the woman’s close friends, the relationship had gone on for at least a year. Although Caroline expressed to her friends that she wished to end her marriage and be with Chip, she feared for her safety. Her husband Nick was a known drug dealer and possibly had ties to the mob.

There was a strong possibility that Caroline was the victim of cell phone spying, so she provided her cell phone and requested a mobile phone forensic analysis. A cell phone investigation includes using cell phone forensic tools and data extraction software for forensics data recovery.

Caroline had not been aware until the mobile phone spyware detection was complete that she had been the victim of cell phone monitoring by her husband. It was through the spyware that Caroline’s husband had discovered the affair.

Using digital forensics and cell tower triangulation, Nick’s phone was placed in proximity to where Chip’s body had been found in a critical time period. Through an extensive background check, Nick’s record emerged across several states, including two stints in prison for drug-related offenses. Two of Nick’s former cronies provided sworn affidavits, which, along with the forensic cellular evidence, allowed for the case to be reopened.

Further investigation proved that Caroline’s husband had arranged for Chip’s murder. Although the infidelity was not what the family wanted to hear about Chip, they were given the opportunity to seek justice for the homicide of their loved one. And Caroline began a new life, too – without Nick.

-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations