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Fitbit data has once again been used to help solve a crime, in this case, the murder of a San Jose woman.
Ninety-year-old Anthony Aiello visited his 67-year old stepdaughter Karen Navarra in mid-September. Five days later, a concerned colleague visited her home and discovered her dead. Aiello said that he brought Navarra pizza during a brief visit Sept. 12, but her Fitbit data suggested that was not exactly what happened.
Navarra was wearing a Fitbit Alta, a device that includes heart rate tracking. Data from her Fitbit showed a noticeable spike in her heart rate during her stepfather’s visit, immediately followed by a rapid slowing before stopping altogether. Video camera footage confirmed the timing of events—that the woman’s heart stopped while Aiello’s car was still parked in her driveway, indicating that Aiello had not left the premises yet.
When initially confronted with this evidence, which conflicted with his original story, Aiello originally said that someone else must have entered the house after he left. The blood splattered shirts also discovered in the garage? Just the result of what happened when he cut his hand during the visit. The murder was made to look like a suicide.
This isn’t the first time police have turned to Fitbit data in order to solve a crime. Police in Connecticut used Fitbit data in conjunction with information from Facebook Messenger, phone logs, and home security records to convict Richard Dabate of the 2015 murder of his wife, Connie. Investigators also turned to Fitbit data in the disappearance of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts earlier this year.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.