Chief Rich Oberle reviews evidence.
Chief Rich Oberle reviews evidence. (PHOTO COURTESY BOB GALVIN) Chief Rich Oberle reviews evidence. (PHOTO COURTESY BOB GALVIN)
FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Technology can't replace good old-fashioned detective work, but sometimes they make a winning combination. This was the case when I investigated a bomb threat at a Westville, Ind., high school in January 2008.
The school principal notified our town marshal of a threat that had been recorded on the school s answering machine on Dec. 27, 2007. The message said a device had been placed in a bathroom and would explode at about 9 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2008 the day school re-opened after the Christmas break. No school staff were available during the break to intercept the threatening message and notify our police department.
Emergency services and officers made a sweep of school bathrooms. We found no bomb. The school was secured and an investigation began. With the community growing anxious, my investigators and I had to work fast.
Phone numbers from the school's caller ID were collected and checked to match providers with each number. The providers were subpoenaed, although they said trace results might not come soon. I then used a records management software (RMS) we had purchased, Crimestar RMS, to expedite the probe.
I had thin evidence to identify a suspect, other than several phone numbers and a voice left on the answering machine. So I used the Super Search feature to search all available data in the software. Coincidentally, I retrieved an incident report containing a suspect phone number. Now I had a name.
A deputy and I located the juvenile male who was linked to the suspect phone number and applied 18 years of interviewing skills with him. The suspect confessed to the bomb threat and named an accomplice.
Shortly after these juveniles were appre hended and placed in a detention facility, trace results from the phone providers arrived, confirming what the Crimestar program had already disclosed.
Technology and investigative know-how can be a great combo for solving some cases.