Are you realizing that having a Fitbit isn’t really making you any more fit and that it’s just making you obsessive about how many steps you’re taking every day? It turns out it can do more than just count your steps and provide other vitals. One woman’s Fitbit helped solve her murder.
Anthony Aiello, 90, visited his stepdaughter Karen Navarra’s house in San Jose, California, on September 8 and brought homemade pizza and biscotti. He stayed at the 67-year-old’s home for a short time. He later said she walked him to the door and gave him two roses, thanking him for the visit.
Five days later Navarra’s co-worker showed up at her house to do a wellness check after she didn’t show up for work. She found the front door unlocked, and inside Navarra was dead in a chair at her dining room table.
A large kitchen knife was in her right hand, according to a report, and she had lacerations on her head and neck with blood splatters. Uneaten pizza was scattered in the kitchen. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Her mother Adele, 92, and Aiello were questioned. He told the authorities he’d dropped the food off for Navarra and left within fifteen minutes and that later that afternoon he saw her drive by his home with someone else in the car with her.
Armed with a search warrant, investigators got the data from Navarra’s Fitbit with help from Jeff Bonham, Fitbit’s director of brand protection. The data showed that her heart rate spiked significantly around 3:20 PM on Sept. 8 and then slowed rapidly, finally stopping around 3:28 PM.
When the data was compared to video surveillance of her home, the police found that Aiello’s car was still there when her heart stopped on her Fitbit. Later, bloodstained clothes were found in his home, and he was arrested on September 25.
The Unassuming Witness
Much has been said regarding whether or not smartphone manufacturers, such as Apple, should be forced to provide backdoors to investigators. But those cases are with a smartphone that is usually being investigated to find out what someone was doing or planning, not their health status.
In truth, Fitbits helping investigations has happened before. Earlier this year 20-year-old Mollie Tibbets’s body was found about a month after she went missing. Investigators were using her Fitbit data to try and track her down. They found her alleged assailant through surveillance video.
“From doorbell security footage to Fitbit, technology engineered to solve some of life’s issues are solving serious crimes,” said the district attorney for Santa Clara County, Jeff Rosen. “We are continually inspired by law enforcement investigators who are thinking outside the box.”
Aiello was “confronted” with the data from Navarra’s Fitbit while he was being questioned, according to San Jose police detective Brian Meeker. “After explaining the abilities of the Fitbit to record time, physical movement, and heart rate data, he was informed that the victim was deceased prior to his leaving the house,” Meeker wrote in the report.
Aiello insisted that it couldn’t be true and that Navarra had walked him to the door. He suggested that possibly someone else was in the home at the time.
“I explained that both systems (video surveillance and the Fitbit) were on Internet time, and there was no deviation,” said Meeker.
Perhaps we get so caught up in protecting our privacy and security with regards to the sharing of data that we don’t stop to think the good that it may do. Admittedly, privacy and security is very important, but we just can’t easily discount how it can be helpful as well.
What do you think of this investigation using the dead woman’s Fitbit? Does it change your thoughts on the sharing of data or whether or not authorities should be able to access a device? Let us know what you think about this Fitbit solving a murder in the comments.