UPDATE: 9/19/17 5:15 PM
A spokesperson with the Mobile Police Department tell News 5 that they have identified a suspect in this case and that he has been questioned. They go on to say the case and circumstances involved are currently under investigation while they analyze electronic evidence. They do not say whether that suspect has been arrested or charged with anything, but say that there is currently no further perceived danger to the public.
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Mobile Police Department is investigating after a woman claims she was kidnapped and raped after using an app on her smartphone.
The victim told police that she thought she was talking to a female friend on the Whisper app and invited her friend over to her house. When a car pulled up in the driveway, she approached it and an unknown man, armed with a handgun, jumped out and demanded she gets in the car.
After the victim got into the car, she told Mobile Police that he drove to a vacant house, took her inside and forced the victim to have sex with him.
At this time, no arrests have been made in the case and the Mobile Police Department is asking the public to contact them with any information.
The incident happened Friday night around 8 p.m. in 1400 block of Stone Hedge Drive, which is near the intersection of Grelot Road and Schillinger Road.
The Whisper app is a free mobile app for Apple and Android products. The app allows users to post pictures, videos and messages anonymously and the posts are called ‘whispers’.
News 5 spoke with Santana Davis who is the mother of a 12 and 4 year old. Davis says she is really concerned the suspect is still on the lose. She says this is why her daughter is not allowed to use social media on her cell phone, “Things like this could happen. She’s young, and she’s not totally thinking. So she probably thinks that these are her friends, and stuff like this can’t happen to her. But they can and they will.”
News 5 Technology Reporter J.B. Biunno did a special report about predators using social media apps to target people. Biunno knows just how dangerous apps like whisper can be, “Predators lurk on apps people use the most. When you have an app that’s increasing in popularity, such as whisper, that’s where predators are going to lurk and they’re going to look for people who might be more gullible than others.”
It takes time investigating cases involving apps that protect the users privacy. News 5 spoke with digital forensic experts at the University of South Alabama. According to the experts, investigators must first reach out to the makers of the app and present a valid subpoena, court order, search warrant, or other legal process issued to receive any data trail left behind on the suspects phone. That data trail would not provide the identity of the suspect, it can only identify the smart phone or device that used the app.
Investigators would have to use that information and reach out to the cell phone provider of the device that was used to get any additional information to help locate the suspect. Investigators would have to go through the same legal means required to get the data from the maker of the app.
According to Whisper’s website the company will cooperate with government authorities if they follow the procedures listed above for requesting data information about app users. The only time the company will by pass that is if it is a life-threatening situation.