Google Maps has played a key role in an investigation of a rapist and his accomplice.
The story dates back to 2017. A 30-year-old healthcare worker was returning home after her shift when a stranger intercepted her, armed with a cutter and hammer. He forced him to follow him and the woman was taken away in a dark-colored van.
The man then raped her while an accomplice was driving. The woman was then abandoned by the side of the road.
She was coming home from work when a man took her away
After walking for several hours, she eventually reached a road stop. Injured, she begged a truck driver to use her phone and she was able to notify the police.
The police immediately tried to locate the two men, unfortunately without success. The rapists had disappeared without leaving a trace, and the chances of finding them were therefore extremely slim.
This is where the story takes an unexpected turn. The victim indeed remembered a crucial detail. While in the van, she saw a smartphone with Google Maps running on it.
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The rapist had launched Google Maps on his phone
Eric Draeger, an investigator specializing in new technologies working for the Milwaukee Police Department, had the idea of using the information displayed by the solution to trace the attackers.
After having scrupulously noted every detail of the journey, he presented his initial conclusions to his supervisor, who then gave him his approval to further investigate. Draeger then contacted Erin Karshen, an assistant prosecutor familiar with the issues inherent in new technology, and the latter helped him obtain a warrant from a judge.
Draeger then contacted Google in an attempt to identify the Google Account set up on the van's phone, relying on GPS data displayed by Google Maps.
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Thanks to Google, investigators were able to identify the rapist
At the time, an employee of the firm's legal compliance unit responded. After telling him that he did not know if his request was technically possible, he assured her to do everything possible to meet his request. A few days passed and the company came back to him telling him that only one Google Account matched the data indicated.
The rapist was then identified. Investigators were able to trace him back and arrest him. Seeing the police arrive, the man driving on a highway stopped his vehicle to flee into the forest.
The investigators then called in a canine brigade, which had no difficulty in tracing its trace. The rapist was arrested for sexual assault, kidnapping and armed robbery. His accomplice was immediately identified and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. The rapist, for his part, was found guilty of all seven counts related to the attack and the judge sentenced him to more than 100 years in prison.