How Fitbit activity data helped to crack a murder case

The Quantified Victim gets the last laugh
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Connie Dabate, you absolute hero. Wife, murder victim, Fitbit wearer, Connie has managed to get her connected self revenge from the grave simply by wearing her fitness tracker to go spinning on the morning that police now believe her husband Richard Dabate shot her dead.

That's because her Fitbit's activity data was legit used in the Connecticut investigation into her murder in November 2015. Head to the source link below for all the sordid details. Richard's secret girlfriend was pregnant at the time, he was planning to get divorced and then he concocted a story about an intruder breaking into the house and killing his wife.

Read this: How to choose a GPS kids tracker

The police pieced together what they now believe really happened from all sorts of evidence: sniffer dogs not detecting any other scents apart from Richard, texts to his girlfriend, an email to his boss to say he'd be late, web browsing to check his wife's schedule etc. But here's how the Fitbit data helped illuminate the timeline. Police were able to access the data to show when Connie was active and inactive in the hour before she was killed. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

The Fitbit timeline

Connie went to a spinning class at a local YMCA, hence she was wearing her Fitbit. From 9.14am on that day, her Fitbit was idle for nine minutes - the drive home. At 9.23am, her Fitbit started registering steps again at the same time the Dabate's garage doors opened as she arrived home (shout out smart home security). From 9.40am Connie was posting pics to Facebook using her home's Wi-Fi. At 10.05am the Fitbit stops registering steps - in the previous 42 minutes it had recorded 1,217 feet travelled around the house.

The reason the intruder story doesn't hold up is because everything else on record happened after 10.05am. So at 10.11am Richard presses the panic button on his keyfob for the home's security system as you would if someone was breaking into your house.

At 10.16am the alarm company called the state police (fairly speedy) and at 10.20am Richard himself called the police with the intruder version of events.

"To say it is rare to use Fitbit records would be safe. It is an electronic footprint that tracks your movements," said the local district attorney Craig Stedman. "It is a great tool for investigators to use. We can also get the information much faster than some other types of evidence such as DNA tests."

Now we're not sure what device Connie was wearing as that isn't specified in the local report but being late 2015, it could have been a Charge HR or Surge, both released earlier that year. What we do know is that Richard is awaiting his trial.

Source: Hartford Courant (via The Daily Dot)

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Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.


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