Hard Drive Data Analysis in Double Murder Investigation

June 14, 2017 by Antoine Valette

The Crime

Among the most amazing cases of data recovery that Ontrack has seen is about a double murder investigation. A woman died at her home and was found next to another dead body that she apparently did not know. Suspicions were first swirling around her husband, who was also in the house at the time of the incident, but he had no recollection of what had happened, so the investigators searched for other answers through a hard drive data analysis.

Indeed, the husband assured in his statement that he spent all evening playing online poker. The investigator in charge of the case then asked for the analysis of the hard drive of the husband’s computer. He apparently practiced this activity regularly, most of time with his friends, forcing him to use headphones to communicate. He even participated in several tournaments at the same time, which took up a lot of his time, sometimes late into the evening and sometimes even during the night. So, Ontrack was called upon to assist in this investigation.

Hard Drive Data Analysis

The analysis of the data on the hard drive revealed that the husband had spent the entire evening on his computer, playing online poker. The short periods which indicated an absence, usually less than three minutes would not in all probability have allowed him to go downstairs to the room where his wife was and commit a double murder. The reconstruction of the facts had previously determined that at least fifteen minutes would have been necessary for the murder. On the other side, the forensic pathologist had estimated the time of death between 10 pm and 11 pm and this was when the husband was most active on his computer.

The investigators had to determinate the circumstances of the two deaths: the house where the murder occurred seemed to have been targeted by a thief who was able to enter the house without a trace. He then went into the room where the woman was and tried to approach her. He didn’t realize that the woman was sewing and she was armed with very sharp scissors. Surprised and frightened by this stranger, she gave him a blow to the thorax in an instinctive gesture of self-defense with the scissors. The man was mortally wounded, but was able to stab the woman with a knife before collapsing, which also resulted in her death.

In this case, computer expertise helped to prove the innocence the husband of the victim, thus enabling the investigators to turn to other possibilities.  The expertise of Ontrack is very useful in many cases, but here it is truly one of the most unique cases.