Digital Forensics Dispatch
Digital Forensics Blog
by Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
Road Rage Murder Investigated Using Cell Phone Forensics
February 9, 2023
In a recent article for Fox17.com, author Jordan Whittington detailed the many ways mobile forensics was used to get a clearer picture of the events leading up to, and following, the roadway killing of Nashville ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman.
Kaufman’s body was located alongside I-440 in Nashville on the evening of December 3rd 2020, still sitting in the driver’s seat of a running car, brakes applied. When she was first discovered, there wasn’t much readily apparent evidence. With no video from sources like traffic cameras or witness reports, investigators had to look elsewhere for clues.
Detectives found those clues in mobile devices, first on Kaufman’s iPhone, still plugged in on the center console of her car. The phone was analyzed by detectives, and location data from the device revealed it had been traveling around 70 miles an hour before it abruptly began to slow to a stop at around 6:08 that evening, coming to rest at the location where she was eventually located nearly three hours later.
Kaufman’s device was further analyzed to check for any messages or activity around the time of the shooting that could point to any disputes but none were noted.
As the investigation continued, another source assisted police in locating the gun used in the shooting leading to the arrest of Devaunte Hill and James Cowan. Search warrants were issued for both their cell phones.
Searches of Hill’s device turned up communications with Cowan after the time of the shooting as well as a Google search for the phrase “Nashville Shooting” that evening. Browser history showed Hill’s phone had been used to read a news article about Kaufman’s killing at 2:22 a.m. that night.
Cowan’s device showed the he and Hill planned to meet up close to the scene of the crime shortly after the shooting.
Tennessee State investigators performed further analysis putting both Kaufman and Cowan’s devices in close proximity on the interstate at 6:08 p.m. on the night of the shooting, the very time Kaufman’s car began to slow quickly from 70 to the side of the road, where she was found dead.
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