Police ask Snapchat to help solve murder case

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Snapchat has an unexpected role in a drug-based investigation in Colorado in 2016. Devon Smeltz reportedly disappeared in August 2016, shortly after a nighttime chaos captured by a camera near his home in Fort Collins. Eight days after the incident, Smeltz's body was found in a rural area, an hour from the city. This prompted the Fort Collins police to investigate.

The main suspect of the case was a group of five people from Cincinnati. Shortly after Smeltz disappeared, the group was discovered by Illinois traffic police driving Smeltz's Mercedes car.

Police then ransacked the car and found firearms, blood spots and cocaine weighing 115 grams. According to police interviews of the fifth friends of the group, the group departed from Cincinnati to Fort Collins bringing in US $ 60,000 in order to buy drugs. Separately, Smeltz's mother said she heard that her son was preparing to meet some people from Cincinnati.

Police did not find a phone call or SMS between Smeltz and the suspect. However, in an audio recording taken from one of the suspect's cell phones, there is someone who mentions "snap", making investigators think that this transaction is planned through Snapchat.

It is still unknown what data Snapchat gives to the police, given the rules related to the storage of user information to make them can only provide limited information.

Snapchat will only store user chats for a month, according to company regulations. While the police requested this information on November 8, 2016, more than two months after Smeltz's body was found by police.

Known, Snap then meets the police request and provides the necessary information. Nevertheless, the information the police need may have been wiped out if Smeltz accidentally saves evidence of the conversation before he is killed.

Snapchat declined to comment on this matter. According to the Snapchat transparency report, they get requests for information from the police 370 times per month and meet 86 percent of the demand.