Besides enabling people to connect with friends and family all over the world, social media has also proven to be instrumental in solving crimes. Detectives and prosecutors have found Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, particularly useful in finding key evidence that helps convict murderers.
The only difference, in this case, is that it took police two years to find the evidence they were looking for. The following story explains how it all went down…
It was a little past midnight when two best friends huddled close together to take a selfie in March of 2015. Cheyenne Rose Antoine took the photo and Brittney Gargol had her hand on her hip and wore a smirk on her face.
Doing As Young Girls’ Do
Shortly after, Cheyenne posted the photo on her Facebook page and it would be the last photo ever taken of Brittney. The two had gone out partying that night and took the photo right before they left…
Brittney was found fatally injured and unresponsive on the side of Valley Road in Saskatoon, Canada. The man who found her said she was freezing cold, had no shoes and was lying on her back. “There were never any signs of life detected,” said the prosecutor in the case, Robin Ritter.
There Weren’t Words To Explain What The Family Was Feeling
When Brittney’s family heard the news of their daughter, they were beyond devastated. No one can ever prepare themselves for the loss of a child, especially not in this way. Brittney’s father, Everett Hillbom, said he was shocked by the death of his young daughter, who was only 18. He said that he expected her to repair her car that next day and now he would never see her again…
What Happened To Brittney Gargol?
But, who was responsible for Brittney’s death? Police went to speak with the last person who saw Brittney, and that was Antoine. She told them the name of a few of the bars that she and Brittney went to that night and said that Brittney met a man at one of them and they left together.
She Led Police On A Wild Goose Chase
Police reviewed security tape from the places Antoine mentioned, Colonial Pub and the Grill, but found that neither of the women were there that night. It was safe to assume Antoine had lied to police because she was guilty of something. But, was it murder? Wast it an accomplice to murder? Prosecutors had to find out…
Lies After Lies
The next time investigators spoke to Antoine, she changed her story. She said she couldn’t remember what happened after she and Brittney left a house party that night. The time after that, she told police that she left Brittney after midnight and met up with her uncle to walk along a river.
Something Had To Give
Antoine was making everyone’s heads spin and the heat was on for police to get to the bottom of what happened. Just as they thought they were running dry on clues, a person came forward who remembered what happened that night pretty well. She was a friend of Antoine’s and she told Brittney’s family that she saw Antoine that same night…
Anonymous Tip By A Friend
After getting drunk, Antoine told the friend that she and Brittney got into a fight and that she hit Brittney and strangled her. She later showed up at her friend’s house, and hysterically confessed to how she had hurt her friend.
Horrible Attempt At An Alibi
Despite showing her sadness and remorse, it became clear to everyone that Antoine was a dangerous woman and now a murderer. But, the friend’s tip wouldn’t be the main piece of evidence that would put Antoine behind bars. Shortly after the friend came forward, investigators saw a photo comment that showed a deliberate attempt by Antoine to dupe them about her involvement…
Antoine wrote a conveniently time-stamped message of concern on Brittney’s Facebook page saying, “Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe.” This was Antoine’s attempt to show that she was not involved in Brittney’s murder, but her attempt was poorly executed.
Investigators saw right through it and they knew that Antoine knew her friend was not home safe because she had strangled her to death outside of town. Then, prosecution looked at that photo that Antoine and Brittney took that night and they found the key piece of evidence that would put Antoine behind bars for murder…
Look Closely At The Photo
In the bottom left corner of the photo, just peeking into the frame, Antoine is wearing what would become the main piece of evidence used to put her away for manslaughter. An autopsy revealed that Brittney was killed by strangulation and a belt found at the scene matched the one Antoine wore in the photo just hours earlier.
The Murder Weapon
The belt’s color and weave, which is evident in the selfie, is consistent with marks that indicated a struggle. Two years passed before this evidence against Antoine started to mount, and the Facebook photo and comment combined with the alcohol-fueled rant that led to Antoine’s confession was enough to lead to Antoine’s arrest. But, how much time would Brittney serve in prison?
Praying For A Life Sentence
Brittney’s family hoped it would be forever. Brittney’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser said to Antoine in court, “You were her friend…She trusted you.” Brittney’s younger sister said that she feels guilty if one day goes by and she doesn’t think of Brittney. She was only 5-years-old at the time of her killing. The court tried to mount as much evidence as possible against Antoine before making their verdict.
Covering Her Tracks
The judge was clued in on yet another Facebook message that Antoine left on Brittney’s page six months after her murder. “I miss you soo much bert! I’m blessed to have met you & have you be a part of my life…I still can’t believe those last two days were going to be the last 2 days I got to be able to hug you, talk to you & laugh with you.” The judge had enough and gave Antoine her sentence…
Antoine, now 21, pleaded guilty to killing Brittney Gargol and was sentenced to seven years in a Canadian prison. This decision came three years after Brittney’s body was found dumped on the side of a road.
What appears to be lost is what Antoine’s motive was. The prosecutor in the case, Robin Ritter said that the argument may have started over a cell phone, but she’s convinced we’ll never know. What we do know is that investigators used Facebook to build their case…
It’s estimated that 8.4 billion devices were connected to the Internet worldwide in 2017, which was a 31% increase from 2016. By 2020, it’s predicted that there will roughly be three smart devices for every person on the planet.
The Era Of “Sensorveillance”
Andrew Ferguson, a law professor at the District of Columbia, says that this new era is called the era of “sensorveillance.” Crime scenes and criminals are not only covered with drops of blood and hair follicles, but now, data from smart devices.