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Internet Sleuths: 3 Cases Solved by the Internet

With the evolution of the Internet, it's become easier for investigators all over the world to solve cases long thought cold. But the Internet isn't just a repository of information: it's also home to millions of intelligent people. And sometimes, those people come together to solve crimes even the police couldn't.

A Skull in a Vacant Lot

In March 1988, a man dumping trash in a vacant lot discovered a human skull lying on the ground beside a tree. The skull belonged to a young woman aged 20-29, with curly brown hair, approximately 5'4. Despite the amount of information, as well as DNA, the case remained unsolved until 2011, when a group of users on the site Websleuths were able to identify the skull as belonging to Lynda Jane Hart, a woman who matched the description almost exactly and disappeared seven months prior to the discovery of the skull. Thanks to dental records and familial DNA, police were able to confirm that the remains were indeed Lynda Jane Hart, and brought her family some closure 23 years later.

A Hit-and-Run Driver

In 1968, 4-year-old Carolee Sadie Ashby was killed in a hit-and-run in upstate New York. The case remained unsolved until forty-five years later, when a retired police officer posted some details about the case to a Facebook group dedicated to local history. Another woman in the group quickly contacted the cop to inform him that decades before, a friend admitted to being with the suspected driver the night of Ashby's death. With the woman's help, local police were able to reopen the case and question the suspect, who confessed to the murder.

A Stolen Camera

In 2014, professional photographer Anthony Posey lost a camera full of photographs in the bathroom at the Seattle Public Library while on vacation. Assuming he'd never see the camera again, Posey posted a Craigslist ad about the "lost" camera and returned home to New Orleans. But then, the Seattle Police Department recovered a stolen camera as part of an undercover street buy. Thanks to a Justice Department monitor, the Seattle PD posted a picture of the stolen camera on Nextdoor, along with one of the images taken on it: one of Posey's wedding photos. Another member of the Nextdoor group soon responded, saying he'd seen a Craigslist ad that looked similar. Within days, the camera--and the 1500 personal images Posey thought he'd lost forever--were returned to their rightful owner.

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