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Internet searches as clues: Google, how quickly does a corpse start to stink?


A US citizen has been charged with the murder of his missing wife. He had done extensive research online on how to dispose of a body. A civil rights activist criticized the indictment.

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W. at the indictment in Quincy, Massachusetts: "Hacksaw best tool for disassembly"

Photo: Craig F. Walker / Pool via REUTERS

The video of the indictment reading has already gone viral on TikTok: The Massachusetts prosecutor's office accuses Brian W. of murdering his wife.

A body has not yet been found.

The indictment is based, among other things, on Google searches by W. about the alleged time of the crime, which he is said to have carried out on the iPad of one of his three children.

"How quickly a corpse starts to stink," was one of them.

Another: »Hacksaw best tool for disassembly«.

And W. is said to have googled "ten ways to get rid of a corpse if it's really necessary."

NBC Boston reports 20 such searches in three consecutive days, one scarier than the next.

As clear as that sounds, Jennifer Lynch of the civil rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) claims that this alone will hardly be enough for a conviction.

"It would be very difficult to base a criminal investigation solely on what someone was looking for on the Internet," Lynch told the AP news agency.

Just because someone is looking for something potentially illegal doesn't mean they intend to commit a crime.

Curiosity and boredom could also lead to someone making similar searches.

"We all have to worry about police access to our search histories because they reveal so much private information about us."

"I intend to win the case"

But in the case of W. there is a lot of other evidence - and two indictment readings.

The second said investigators found several bags containing the woman's clothing and personal belongings at a landfill site, many of which had DNA and blood traces that could be linked to both W. and his wife.

W. can also be seen on surveillance videos of a hardware store, where he bought cleaning supplies, buckets, goggles and an ax, among other things.

He wore a mask and rubber gloves.

According to the prosecution, W.'s car and a man who looks like him can also be seen in a surveillance video near the garbage cans of a residential complex.

The man in the video apparently carries heavy garbage bags and throws them into the container.

This, in turn, had already been emptied at the time of the investigation.

Knives and blood were also found in W.'s basement.

His attorney said, according to NBC Boston, "I intend to win the case."


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-27

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