After enjoying a Christmas visit to a Catholic shrine in Luzerne County, PA, the Miller family walked back to their car.
Five-year-old Kevin Miller held his dad’s hand as they crossed the street.
At that moment, a speeding red Pontiac Grand Am crested the hill to the east. The boy was ripped from his father’s grip as the corner of the vehicle’s bumper caught the child, throwing his body so far, that no one even saw where he landed. Kevin was killed instantly. The vehicle failed to stop.
While the pain of the tragedy set in for Kevin’s family and friends, investigators started a race against time to identify a suspect. The first 48 hours of any investigation are critical. Without any immediate suspects, investigators faced a significant challenge.
Police quickly identified three different surveillance cameras in the area of the incident. However, after extracting the video, a new challenge presented itself. The three surveillance systems each recorded to unique digital video file formats that could not be played on the agency’s computers. Kevin’s killer remained unidentified, while investigators burned critical hours attempting to gain access to the video images.
Accessing digital video accurately and quickly is a constant challenge for investigators. In almost every criminal case, the investigation timeline is impeded by the obstacles posed by proprietary digital video file types.
Watch the following Local News story about the investigation and arrest:
In Kevin’s case, investigators eventually sought the assistance of a forensic video expert, who quickly exposed the hidden evidence using specialized video analysis software. Within hours, the images lead to the identification of the vehicle, and to a suspect driver: Thomas Letteer Jr.
With a suspect in focus, the growing evidence against the driver began to snowball. Warrants led to cell phone records. Cell phone records tied the phone’s GPS location to the same cell sites and to the path traveled by the red Pontiac Grand Am.
In addition, important text messages corroborated the video evidence, the cell phone data, and other witness testimony, which all formed parts of the data-intelligence focused investigation. The video proved to be the first critical evidentiary piece of the investigative puzzle. The other elements of the case followed quickly. The power of the evidence and the speed with which the case was concluded lead to the arrest and eventual guilty plea of Kevin’s killer; giving time to his family to begin focusing on the painful healing process.
In this case, investigators understood that video evidence was everywhere, and they knew they were in a fight against time. Fortunately, Kevin’s killer was identified quickly with the assistance of an outside video analyst who was one of the primary forces behind the development of iNPUT-ACE, a powerful, but simple drag, drop, and play video workflow engine.
Since the event occurred, the state of Pennsylvania passed “Kevin’s Law.” This law, named after Kevin Miller, increases the penalty for hit and run incidents that result in fatalities.
As a result of the experiences working with investigators on Kevin Miller’s case and other equally troubling cases, iNPUT-ACE software has continued to grow from being used only by the most advanced forensic video analysts into being the premier video forensics tool to meet the needs of detectives who may not have specialized training in video examinations.
iNPUT-ACE now allows any investigator to drag/drop/and play their proprietary video evidence, accelerating the time to evidence during the first 48 hours of any video-focused investigation.