Law enforcement used an Ohio homeowner’s pacemaker data to arrest and charge him with insurance fraud and arson.
On 19 September 2016, residents of the area around Court Donegal in Middletown, Ohio woke up to the sound of a “loud explosion.” One of the residents, Mike Huff, said his dogs began barking at 6:30 a.m. When he looked outside, he saw a startling sight.
As quoted by WCPO Cincinnati:
“It was just flames shooting 50 feet high in the air, it seemed like. I called 911 right away and they told me to run down, stay on the line and make sure the owner was out of the house.”
Huff then ran outside and saw 58-year-old Ross Compton Jr., the owner of engulfed house, carrying a computer tower and loading it into his vehicle. He went over to give Compton a hand.
Firefighters arrived at 6:45 a.m. and worked to extinguish the blaze. Notwithstanding their efforts, the fire caused approximately $400,000 worth of damages to the 2,000-sqare-foot house and its contents. The home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Throughout the day, firefighters remained at the premises in an effort to understand how the fire had started. Their investigation revealed “multiple points of origin of the fire from the outside of the residence.” Curious, police officers decided to review Compton’s call he placed to 9-1-1. They found that several of Compton’s statements did not match up with the firefighters’ report.
In his emergency call, Compton said there was no one else left in the house but can be clearly heard at one point saying, “Get out of here now.” He went on to say that when he realized his house was on fire, he packed his suitcase, broke the class of his bedroom windrow with his walking stick, and threw the suitcase outside. He also admitted at one point he has an “artificial heart.”
Given these discrepancies, not to mention other conflicting statements he made at the scene, police decided to verify Compton’s story by filing a search warrant for his pacemaker data. They wanted to know if a man with his health conditions could have done all he said he did. Law enforcement obtained the data and sent it to a cardiologist for review. In their expert opinion, the cardiologist doesn’t feel Compton was not telling the truth.
As quoted by Journal-News:
“[I]t is highly improbable Mr. Compton would have been able to collect, pack and remove the number of items from the house, exit his bedroom window and carry numerous large and heavy items to the front of his residence during the short period of time he has indicated due to his medical conditions.”
Police arrested Compton a month after the fire and charged him with insurance fraud and arson. The Middletown man is scheduled to be arraigned in February.
Our world is such that not only can hackers compromise connected medical devices like pacemakers. Law enforcement can also subpoena those devices’ data when they suspect wrongdoing. The question is: did police need access to this information? Police found portions of Compton’s clothing covered in gasoline, reports WLWT Cincinnati. Could this evidence have sufficed?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!