Police use Snapchat to nab Converse capital murder suspect
Arrest example of importance social media plays in law enforcement investigation
CONVERSE, Texas – Snapchat messages ultimately led police to a 17-year-old man accused of shooting and killing another teenager in Converse last month.
Isaiah Westman was arrested Friday in Killeen and was brought back to Bexar County on Wednesday morning. He's charged with capital murder.
Zachary Segura, 17, was robbed and shot in the head Feb. 25 at Macarthur Park in Converse.
"In this case, in particular, we did know that the suspect and the victim were communicating via Snapchat. So yes, that's one of the first things we wanted to do in this case was get information from our victim's social media that could link to the suspect," Converse Police Lt. Jeff Shook said.
Changing times and technology create a constant state of learning for people in law enforcement such as Shook and Detective Kim Molder.
"It's fluid. It's ever-changing. Every day, there's something new or you hear about a new trend, and really it's educating ourselves," Molder said.
Westman's arrest affidavit showed that, "A subpoena was sent to Snapchat requesting records associated with this account."
Shook said technology and social media companies have always been cooperative in giving information. The issue is typically waiting.
"There are certain things that we can expedite or attempt to expedite, which we do. But a lot of the warrants, we're literally on their time frame. So it could take a week, it could take three months," he said.
Investigators said the average wait time is about two months, but the severity of the charges prompted Snapchat to release information in 10 days. That was precious time, considering that information quickly led police to the suspect.
The day-to-day effort for law enforcement is figuring out where people are communicating. Kik Messenger used to be the most popular way to communicate for young users, but police said it's now Snapchat. Facebook is also in the mix, and police are even dealing with video game message boards.
"They're computers. They're IP addresses," Molder said. "Kids are under the impression, 'If I have a cellphone and it's not hooked up to a provider, that you can't do anything about it.' Well, you're going to get on wireless internet at some point, because that's where those apps come from."
To stay ahead of the criminals, every Converse police officer is trained in using social media in investigations. They also are in constant communication with agencies across the state and nation, trading new techniques and trends.
As for Westman, Shook said he was very uncooperative when interviewed in Killeen. He hopes to interview the suspect again now that he's back in Bexar County.
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