COHASSET, Mass. — The case against Brian Walshe includes Google searches, cell phone location pings, and surveillance video. It’s all part of the growing body of digital evidence being used to prosecute Walshe on charges that he murdered his wife and disposed of her body.
The field of digital forensics began in the 1980′s and has become a routine part of law enforcement investigations.
“A lot of things that we could never do before or things that would be very difficult to do before are much easier. For example, locating people using their mobile devices is much easier,” said Joe Caruso, founder Global Digital Forensics.
According to prosecutors, cell phone location pings allowed police to track Walshe’s travels in the days after they believe he killed his wife on New Year’s Day. In several instances, surveillance cameras at the places Walshe visited recorded what he was doing.
Walshe’s phone pinged near apartment complex dumpsters in Brockton and Abington on January 3rd according to Assistant DA Lynn Beland.
Police pulled surveillance video from the Abington location which Beland said shows, “He walked to the dumpster carrying a garbage bag. He’s leaning in. It appears to be heavy as he has to heft it into the dumpster.”
On January 5th Walshe’s phone was tracked to a dumpster at the apartment where his mother lives in Swampscott.
According to investigators, a search of items from the dumpster at a Peabody trash facility yielded a hacksaw, blood-soaked rug, hatchet and used cleaning supplies.
The evidence laid out in court also claimed, the browser history on an iPad belonging to Walshe’s son includes multiple searches about dead bodies.
One search was for, “What happens when you put body parts in ammonia,” according to the prosecutor.
Computer forensics expert Joe Caruso tells 25 Investigates that digital evidence can be hard to erase.
“Most people are unaware of how much data their phone really gathers on them, how much data their computer has about them. I think that’s a hugely important aspect of investigations.”
A physical phone may not even be needed for law enforcement to examine it.
Police routinely work with tech companies and cell phone providers to obtain phone data.
A court order is generally required to get cell phone records.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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