Police believe 'Kik' app involved in young girl's murder

Police believe 'Kik' app involved in young girl's murder

BLACKSBURG, VA — A popular app used by kids is under scrutiny again because of it's suspected involvement in the murder of a young girl.

THE MURDER OF NICOLE LOVELL

Police say 13-year-old Nicole Lovell of Virginia had been messaging on the app "Kik" with the man charged in her death. Nicole's mom said that she was like most teenagers and on apps like Instagram, Facebook and Kik, which is an anonymous messaging app.

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Neighbors say the day before Nicole died, the teen showed them Kik messages she had exchanged with an 18-year-old man she planned to meet that night. The man Nicole planned to meet and his classmate from Virginia Tech have been charged with Nicole's death.

A WARNING TO PARENTS

Police say the case is another example of why parents need to know what's on their kids' digital devices.

"We've certainly seen a fair amount of cases involving Kik," Officer Andrew Jurewich of the Norwood Police Department told FOX25.

Officer Jurwich is a part of the computer crime unit with the Regional Metro Law Enforcement Council.  The officer says the department gets one to two cases involving Kik each month.

"Cases come in a variety of different flavors for what people are using Kik for, but a lot of what we have seen have been predator-like scenarios," the officer told FOX25.

This past school year, police in Westfield, Mass. said some elementary students were using it to trade naked photos to one another.

KIK RESPONDS

Kik says 40-percent of teenagers use the app,  though you need permission if you are younger than 18, and those under 13 are prohibited from using it. The app lets you exchange texts, photos and videos anonymously.

Kik said it cooperated with the FBI in the Lovell investigation.

"We release certain account information to law enforcement agencies for cases that involve imminent threat of death, loss of security or serious physical injury to any person," said Kik spokesperson Rod McCleod.

Officer Jurewich says Kik has helped them on investigations too, but adds that parents need to do their part.

"You need to have that openness between a parent and a child so they're not afraid and can come to you and let you know that something's amiss," Officer Jurewich said.

So, what can parents do? Check your child's digital devices, take advantage of any parental controls and restrictions, and talk to your kids.