On July 20, 2014, a missing Conway, N.H., teenager walked back into her home, ending a heinous nine-month-long kidnapping ordeal.About a week later, police arrested Nathaniel Kibby at his home and charged him with the abduction. During a warranted search, investigators confiscated several mobile devices that may have contained valuable information in the case.But there was one smartphone they couldn’t crack, a password-protected ZTE. That’s when New Hampshire State Police turned to the Secret Service, which has become a go-to federal agency to help police departments with warrants to extract data from password-protected smartphones and other devices for criminal investigations.The information on the ZTE contained “a huge piece of evidence,” says Sgt. Michael Cote, a New Hampshire State Police detective. In May, Mr. Kibby pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape, among other charges. A judge sentenced him to consecutive prison terms totaling 45 to 90 years.
Hunting for evidence, Secret Service unlocks phone data with force or finesse