Cell phone left at scene helped police catch Estero double-murder suspects
Investigators say two former U.S. Army soldiers made one big mistake after shooting and killing an Estero couple last year: They left behind one of the victim’s cell phones.
A crime scene with an abundance of evidence: 63 shell casings, a wallet, firearm receipts and a cell phone.
“It’s the yellow brick road of evidence,” said WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko. “Specifically in this case you’ve got a phone that has sent text messages and emails setting up the reason for the meeting.”
The reason—in an interview with investigators, 22-year-old Alex Zweifelhofer says he and 29-year-old Craig Lang wanted to get enough money and ammunition to get to Venezuela to fight the government.
So, they met up with Serafin and Deana Lorenzo to sell them guns.
A text from the two men to Serafin on April 9, the day of the murder, read, “We should arrive at 10:45 to 11 p.m.” The 911 shots fired call came in at 10:55 p.m.
“You’ve got location of the cell phone, you can go back and track it in the past as well using the technology that exists through the cell phone providers,” said Kolko.
The number Serafin texted was a burner number the two men purchased in Walmart—you take a SIM card and put it in your phone for a new number.
But investigators still found the original number associated with the phone itself and traced it back to Zwiefelhofer.
“They were able to track them through the State of Florida and ultimately was a critical part of the case,” said Kolko.
Moment by moment, investigators could track their phones as they traveled from out of state to Miami, and eventually right up to the exit at Corkscrew Road, placing them at the crime scene at the time the murders happened.
In this case, investigators had the victim’s cell phone number from the start which made the investigation easier.
But let’s say they didn’t.
Investigators would be able to request all cell phone numbers that bounced off the towers near Corkscrew Road around the time the shots were fired. From there, it would be a process of elimination.