A 16-year-old Pittsburgh-area boy was arrested for murder after police were shown a selfie he took with the victim's dead body. According to court documents, Maxwell Marion Morton shot and killed Ryan Mangan, also 16 years old. After shooting Mangan in the face, Morton allegedly posed for a selfie with Mangan's corpse and then sent the photo to a friend via Snapchat.
Snapchat is a popular messaging service that automatically deletes pictures after they are sent. But despite the app's "self-destruct" feature, Snapchat users have found loopholes including taking a screenshot of the photo prior to it being deleted or saving the photo with the help of third-party apps.
The friend who received Morton's selfie with the dead body used these loopholes to save the picture before it got deleted. He then showed the photo to his mother who promptly notified police officers of the murder.
"[Police] received a copy of the photo which depicted the victim sitting in the chair with a gunshot wound to the face," reads a police affidavit. "It also depicts a black male taking the 'selfie,' with his face facing the camera and the victim behind the actor. The photo had the name 'Maxwell' across the top." According to the police affidavit, Morton also sent text messages to his friend saying "Told you I cleaned up the shells" and "Ryan was not the last one."
On Friday, February 6, police conducted an investigation of Morton's home. There, they found a 9mm handgun which could possibly be the murder weapon because police also found a 9mm casing in Mangan's bedroom.
Morton confessed to the murder after the handgun was found. He is currently being held without bail and would be tried as an adult for first-degree murder, criminal homicide, and possession of a firearm.
John Peck, the district attorney for Westmoreland County, told reporters that it was the first time that he encountered a case like the Mangan murder.
"I've never seen it before," he said, "but it was a key piece of evidence that led investigators to the defendant."
Morton's motive is currently unknown.
With the advent of the "selfie," it has been tied to various disorders such as obsession and "selfie addiction." And while the verdict is still out whether or not Maxwell Marion Morton is mentally disturbed or if he suffers from "selfie addiction," the fact that he posed for a selfie with a dead body is disturbing enough as it is. It also proved to be his downfall.