Monday, October 23, 2006

Walking a New Beat

April 24, 2006:
How cops are using MySpace to crack cases.

As far as Jennifer Joffe was concerned, the party started the night of Feb. 23, when she let four friends raid the liquor cabinet of her mother's Boulder, Colo., mansion—and it ended when she stumbled up to bed. But the next morning it was clear that Joffe, 18, had missed some revelry. Mirrors were shattered. Walls were spattered with blood. Police say $40,000 worth of property was gone. And Joffe was certain that she'd been sexually assaulted (Joffe is a pseudonym; NEWSWEEK does not name sexual-assault victims). What she didn't know, however, was who was responsible for the rampage—and, without other witnesses, neither did Detective Ali Bartley. Until she spotted on Joffe's PC. "It was like a Pandora's box," says Bartley, who spent the next few days monitoring Joffe's online network of "friends" (and friends of friends) and assembling a "police lineup" of suspects from the portrait photos displayed on their profiles. By March 14, Bartley had arrested six young men—two of the original partygoers, plus four friends they invited over while Joffe slept—in connection with the crimes...