Cases that perplex detectives for years can often be solved by a mere stroke of luck or, in some cases, the power of the internet. In this article, we will look at five times that the internet has helped solve crimes that may have otherwise gone unsolved. From locating missing persons to identifying criminals, the internet has played an invaluable role in helping law enforcement officials to crack difficult cases. So without further ado, let’s take a look at these five amazing examples!
- Casey Anthony’s Nanny
In 2011, a young woman named Casey Anthony stood trial for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony. The media attention on this case was enormous, and public opinion on whether or not she had actually murdered her own child was divided. A crucial piece of evidence that helped convict Anthony was a conversation with her employer and co-worker, Amy Huizenga. After years of searching for this woman, detectives finally discovered her true identity thanks to the power of the internet.
Huizenga had originally hired Anthony under the alias of “Bella Vista,” which she used to secure employment at Universal Studios. However, the search for her true identity was made possible by web sleuths who were able to pinpoint that the name Casey Anthony was using was an alias. As it turned out, one of the first people to discover this information was none other than Nancy Grace herself. After sifting through social media profiles, internet users were able to discover the identity of “Bella Vista,” Amy Huizenga.
After receiving this tip from Grace, detectives uncovered evidence that helped lead to Anthony’s conviction and eventual sentencing of four years in jail for lying to police officers. However, her guilty verdict was eventually overturned and she was released under a $500k bond back in 2011 after it was discovered that there is no such crime as murder without a body.
- The Texas Seven
In 2000, seven convicted criminals escaped from a prison transport van while being transferred between two prisons near Kenedy, Texas. These men became known as the “Texas Seven,” and each one had been serving time for a variety of crimes. After escaping, the group did everything in their power to avoid capture and even murdered a man during their getaway attempt. As it turns out, one of these criminals may have been apprehended back in 2013 thanks entirely to the help of web sleuths.
In 2007, one of these convicts, Jim Albright, was shot and killed by police after he attempted to steal a car from an innocent woman. The unidentified victim made several calls to 911 emergency services while this incident was taking place, but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to give vital information that would lead directly to the identification of Albright’s killer. However, all that changed just last year when user Alphonsus Hsieh posted pictures and screenshots from the emergency call onto his blog. Thanks to the power of Google’s reverse image search, Hsieh was able to identify the killer within minutes.
The police were then able to apprehend Albright’s killer, and he eventually led them to the location where they discovered the other six members of the Texas Seven group who had been hiding in plain sight for more than ten years. This case is an amazing example of how powerful online communities are when it comes to solving crimes that may have otherwise gone unsolved. Not only did this man help speed up justice, but he also helped bring closure to a victim’s family.
3 . Barbara Mackle kidnapping
In 1966, a young woman by the name of Barbara Mackle was kidnapped at the age of 20 during a family vacation in Florida. At this time, Mackle had recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology and was working as an elementary school teacher. Her kidnapping case quickly became national news after her father paid the $500,000 ransom that they demanded her safe return. Unfortunately, these men were never convicted for their crimes.
One of these criminals, William Dathan Holbert, eventually turned himself into police after spending years on the run due to committing several murders throughout Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. However, his capture wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for one individual tipping off local authorities about his exact location back in 2012. On the 20th of December, it was reported that Holbert had been arrested after spending several years posing as a missionary under the name of David Haynes while living in Nicaragua with his wife and five children.
The internet has been a powerful tool in solving crimes, both big and small. From helping to find missing persons to identifying criminals, the online community has banded together to do what law enforcement cannot always do on their own.