As social media evolves right in front of our eyes, we're beginning to see more and more crimes solved with the help of the Internet. Sometimes, such as in the case of the Boston Bomber, the Internet’s detective skills aren't so sucessful. But, in the cases written about in this list, the Internet evidence is what helped crack a story wide open. The Internet detectives below understand that the web is more than just a tool for research, it can be used to bring about positive change in the world and to solve mysteries that have long been forgotten, as well as new stories that seem hopeless.
Some of the instances on this list of the Internet being harnessed to stop bad guys are every day lost computer stories, but some of these stories have impacted the way that authorities use the Internet in court cases. Some of the online vigilantes profiled here have brought rapists to justice and solved cold cases that were decades old, helping to bring closure to the families and loved ones involved.
Abraham Shakespeare's murder was a big deal in Florida. He was a day laborer who won $32 million dollars in the state lottery, only to be murdered by his financial advisor, Dee Dee Moore. Police suspected Moore, but they couldn't prove it until she began commenting on the Websleuths website under a false name, then refuting those claims under her actual name. Websleuths took note of the matching IP addresses, giving authorities the evidence they needed to arrest her.
After a 2014 incident when two men were beaten up by a group of people because of their sexual orientation, Twitter and Facebook users cross referenced pictures of the possible assailants with their restaurant check-ins. Ultimately they were able to identify the culprits.
If you're going to gay bash don't fill your FB profile with gay slurs and also delete that resturant check in from earlier— Judge Lance Itme (@FanSince09) September 17, 2014
In 2015, Anonymous began a concerted effort to expose a worldwide pedophile ring that had been operating in secret since at least the 1980s. Calling their effort "Operation Death Eaters," Anonymous began collating child sex cases from across the world and cross referencing them with dark web sub groups. A spokesperson for Anonymous said, “The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries."
Tattoo artist and 19th century antiques collector Greg May was murdered and his body was cut up with a chainsaw. It took year for police and federal investigators to prove that he was dead. All they knew was that his former roommate had stolen his $70,000 collection. It wasn't until they were contacted by Ellen Leach, an e-detective who was trying to solve what she thought was a different murder, with information about a severed head found in a bucket full of concrete, that they were able to charge the ex-roommate with murder.