Skip to Content

Amazon Alexa recordings can help solve double murder case, judge rules

Smart speakers are becoming commonplace in homes as people get used to shouting out commands instead of getting up to do things ourselves. In fact, they can be taught to do just about anything, even fun tricks.

Now, we hear an Amazon Echo speaker could play a key role in an even more troubling than everyday tasks.

The investigation of a double murder now is involving an Echo smart speaker. One judge is counting on the speaker to help, but Amazon isn’t being cooperative so far.

The murder

In January 2017, Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini were murdered in a home in Farmington, New Hampshire. Both had been stabbed multiple times. They were later found under a tarp in the backyard and a knife was discovered buried nearby. Investigators also seized an Amazon Echo smart speaker from inside the home as potential evidence in the case.

Timothy Verrill was later arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, along with other crimes. He has since pleaded not guilty and is set to stand trial in May of 2019.

Last week, a New Hampshire judge ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings taken by that Echo device during the time frame of the double homicide. He also is seeking information about what mobile phones were paired to the smart speaker from Bluetooth from Jan. 27-29, 2017.

According to court documents, officials believe that Sullivan was attacked in the kitchen — the same room where investigators recovered the Echo. Prosecutors believe there may be recordings of the attack and everything that happened after being stored on an Amazon server.

Amazon’s response

Shortly after the judge’s order, an Amazon spokesperson told the Associated Press it wouldn’t turn over any data “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.” And this isn’t the first time Amazon has pushed back when prosecutors came knocking regarding a murder investigation. But the challenge in that particular case ended when the Echo’s owner consented to have the recordings released to authorities.

Keep reading Happening Now. We’ll keep you updated on any developments on the judge’s order.

Bonus: Kim talks about another smart speaker, Alexa, and why you can’t trust it to call 911. Tap or click below to listen to Consumer Tech Update.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community

Get even more know-how in the Komando Community! Here, you can enjoy The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, ask your tech questions in the Forum — and so much more.

Try it for 30 days