Recently, a woman and her co-defendant from St. Joseph, Michigan were charged with first-degree murder and thought that they had the perfect plan in place.
Kemia Hassel and her co-defendant, Jeremy Cullar, are alleged to have conspired to kill Kemia’s husband so that she could collect money from his life insurance policy. Money that she wouldn’t receive if they got a divorce. Sounds familiar, right? The two are alleged to have communicated their plans over the popular social media application, Snapchat.
Now if you aren’t familiar with Snapchat, it’s a very popular mobile messaging application that allows users to share photos, text, and video messages with one another. However, content sent using the app isn’t stored on the phone like text or multimedia messages are. Snapchat displays the content for the user to view and then, once viewed, it suddenly “disappears.” The app deletes the content unless it’s saved by the user or captured by a screenshot of the communication.
It’s not currently public what Snapchat data has been recovered from either the vendor or the cell phones during the investigation, but based on our experience, it wouldn’t be surprising if the users took screenshots or saved the Snaps of their nefarious plans. After all, how would they remember all of the minute details of their plan, if the plan self-destructed after viewing it only once?
The two have pleaded not guilty to the charges, but it’s reported that Ms. Hassel signed a statement that she spent months plotting to kill her husband. Ultimately, the data that can be pulled from the Snapchat app in a digital forensics investigation varies, and recoverability depends on such factors as the make and model of the phone and whether or not a user chooses to save the communication.
Be on the lookout for more information about this trial as it’s slated to begin towards the end of April.
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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology