Apple Watch helps solve brutal murder

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An Apple Watch found on a murder victim provided critical evidence.
Photo: Form Function Form

An Australian woman claims her mother-in-law was killed in their home by unknown assilants, but data from the victim’s Apple Watch contradicts that testimony.

An Apple Watch tracks the wearer’s heartbeat. This means it knows exactly when that heart stops, allowing Adelaide police to know precisely when this murder had taken place. And that was far earlier than claimed.

Caroline Nilsson says men in a sport utility vehicle got into an argument with Myrna Nilsson at her home and then murdered her. The men tied up the younger Ms. Nilsson and left the scene. A neighbor found the woman stumbling in the yard, still gagged, at about 10 pm. 

Apple Watch is watching

Adelaide prosecutor Carmen Matteo says that data from the victim’s smartwatch indicates that Myrna Nilsson was killed much earlier, shortly after returning home from work.

“A watch of this type … contains sensors capable of tracking the movement and rate of movement of the person wearing it and it keeps a history of the wearer’s daily activity. It also measures the heart rate,” Ms. Matteo told ABC News. “The deceased must have been attacked at around 6:38 pm and had certainly died by 6:45 pm. This defendant did not foresee that the police would be able to discern time of death and other information from that device.”

Police aren’t basing their murder charge against Caroline Nilsson solely on data from the Watch. Neighbors didn’t see an SUV at the house, nor did they hear an argument. There’s also no DNA evidence to back up the claim that unknown men attacked Myrna Nilsson.

This isn’t the only time an Apple device used by an victim has been used in a criminal investigation. Police regularly use deceased people’s fingers to unlock iPhones searching for evidence, for example.