The Texas church shooter’s cell phone is still locked and the FBI is perplexed on how to get into Devin Kelley’s phone. This has become a real problem lately for the FBI when it comes to opening a dead person’s cell phone. The FBI spokesperson blamed this problem on the manufacturers of these phones who are making it almost impossible to retrieve information without the passcode.
The FBI refused to release what kind of cell phone Kelley owned, but according to The Verge, it is confirmed that Devin P. Kelley was carrying an iPhone. If Kelley used his fingerprint as the key to unlocking his cell phone, then the FBI has lost their window of opportunity to open the phone by acting on an easy, yet morbid, solution.
Reuters revealed that the FBI did not ask Apple for assistance during this 48-hour critical window. During that time Kelley’s fingerprint could still have unlocked a Touch ID-equipped iPhone. They did not look for help from Apple despite Apple originally reaching out to them almost immediately after learning the agency was having no luck at unlocking Devin Kelley’s phone.
USA Today reports that the FBI has had no luck with unlocking Kelley’s phone, and it is a simple iPhone passcode that “may be stopping the FBI from more fully understanding the shooter behind Sunday’s deadly church killing.” They suggest this may possibly have been “exacerbated by a gap between when murder suspect Devin Kelley last used the phone and when authorities started trying to unlock it”
If Kelley had used a fingerprint to lock his iPhone, Apple would have directed the FBI to use the dead man’s finger to unlock his device. That is as long as the phone had not been shut-off and restarted. There is a 48-hour window of time for Apple iPhones with Touchpad ID once last used. According to Apple, “iPhones locked with a fingerprint ask for the user’s passcode after 48 hours if they have not been unlocked by then,” reports Reuters. So if they had used the finger of the dead shooter early on, they may have gotten in before that window of time closed.
The FBI could have asked for Kelley’s iCloud online storage account data as well if he had one. That information is readily available from Apple to law enforcement who have a warrant or court order to obtain the information. Not only will Apple give the iCloud data to law enforcement officials with a warrant, but they will give them the keys to decrypt it as well.
With all this said, it is not known if the FBI tried to use Kelley’s fingerprint and it failed, but according to Apple as of Wednesday, they were not contacted by the FBI for help in this matter.
It is reported that Devin Kelley opened fire on a church in Sunderland Springs, Texas, last Sunday, and after the bloodbath that was bestowed upon the parishioners of that church he took his own life. This is the worst mass church killing in modern-day history of the nation with 26 dead, 27 including Devin Kelley, the alleged shooter.
Police obtained search warrants for both Kelley’s home and vehicle and they recovered his cell phone. This could hold a treasure trove of information for the FBI when it comes to piecing the events together that led up to this Sunday morning carnage. The problem, however, is that the cell phone’s security is top notch and the FBI specialist cannot unlock the device to examine that information. It was sent to the experts in Quantico, but they still could not decrypt this phone as of today.
According to the FBI special agent who spoke at a press conference earlier in the week, the FBI would not release the make or model of the phone that Kelley owned because they don’t want the criminal element to gravitate to this type of phone. The FBI has already revealed that they are finding it impossible to get into the device, which might very well entice a criminal or two to purchase the phone now that they know just how secure it is.
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