Verizon Refuses To Help Locate Body Of Missing Woman For Four Days

Verizon, which has no problem helping the government spy on its customers, suddenly turned stupid in June when a police department asked them for help finding the body of a woman who had been abducted on camera. Despite pleas from the woman’s parents, the police, and the FBI, it was four days before a technician was sent out to the appropriate cell tower. When that technician gave the police the location info, they found Kelsey Smith’s body within 45 minutes. Verizon won’t respond to requests for an explanation of why they couldn’t help sooner.

The Johnson County District Attorney, Phill Kline, told Fox News that Verizon not only seemed unhelpful, but possibly incompetent:

We did have a problem with Verizon. We’re talking about 3 hours afterwards, they [the police] were already pushing for this information, with the sergeant speaking to Verizon directly at 2:30 a.m., demanding that this information be provided and it wasn’t.

There was a lack of understanding on their end of what they were incapable of doing. I was on the conference call with Verizon, and we had three technicians telling us different things and using different terms, and we can’t guess their mind. We’ve got a girl that’s missing. We have a girl that’s missing, we have a likely abduction, we need to find her.

Everyone involved in the search has made it clear that Verizon’s incompetence had nothing to do with Kelsey’s death, but it could have made the search a lot shorter, and saved a lot of people unnecessary grief. Unfortunately, when Verizon’s president met with Kline and Kelsey’s parents two months later, he brought three lawyers with him for protection.

Kelsey’s mom told Fox, “If [Verizon] brought them because you think we’re here to sue you, that’s not what this is about.” Says Kline, “They didn’t realize that they have an opportunity… to establish a course that leads the way that is right and responsible, and instead they chose a different posture, and that’s unfortunate.”

Kelsey’s mom:

We almost didn’t get to say to goodbye to Kelsey, because of her body decomposition from being out there so long.

Kelsey’s dad:

We never did get a why, that was the thing that was so frustrating, why can’t you do this. That question was never answered.

“Why Did It Take So Long to Find Kelsey Smith?” (video) [] (Thanks to Albert!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jonbo298 says:

    Don’t you need a subpoena for cell tower tracking/call records? I could see why Verizon would be stingy if they didn’t have a subpoena (if something like this requires one). If it wasn’t needed, it was a little cold of them to wait so long.

    • DarkForest says:

      @Jonbo298: I can’t. As the article points out: “Verizon, which has no problem helping the government spy on its customers [without a warrant], suddenly turned stupid in June…” I added the implied bracketed part.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Jonbo298: A subpoena isn’t required. The purpose of a subpoena is to compel discovery that the target of the subpoena initially refuses. For something like this, where there’s an abduction caught on tape, the FBI is involved, etc. Verizon should have dropped everything and provided the necessary information as quickly as possible. Their corporate policy for issues like kidnappings/abductions where they’re contacted directly by the police/FBI during an active search should be to provide the location information immediately.

    • spazztastic says:

      @Jonbo298: I believe there is something called ‘exigent circumstance’ when it comes to protecting human life, such as in the case of a kidnapping. If my understanding of the law is correct, no warrant/supoena would be necessary.

      • Gopher bond says:

        @spazztastic: Everybody is saying what’s not necessary but no one is saying what is and I think that’s the important thing to figure out. I mean, if the police came into my office and just asked for copies of contracts I issued, I couldn’t let them have them, no matter the reason. I’d have to direct them to my supervisor who is over 2 hours away. I don’t think we have a policy in place to release that type of information. I’m just saying I don’t know at what level and what form of documentation would be necessary in my case and I’m guessing many Verizon employees are in the same boat as me.

        • shorty63136 says:

          @testsicles: Which is why you escalate and if that supervisor can’t give the green light, THEY escalate. A couple of hours, I hear ya. I do. But FOUR DAYS????


          I’m sorry – this one just really gets me, man.

          • m4ximusprim3 says:

            @shorty63136: Yeah, when its the po-po on the line, things get escalated quickly too.

            I’ve worked at a customer service center and we had the police call for info – believe me, if you can’t help the police, you find someone who can.

          • Gopher bond says:

            @shorty63136: and that’s what would happen in my case, escalation up the chain, a few hours at most. But it sounds like police called the lowly call center and we all know what kind of service you get when you start there, takes forever to get a person and even when they do promise to escalate, they probably get so many that it doesn’t get any importance addressed to it.

            Not saying it’s right, I’m just saying I can see how it happens and I just think it would be a good idea for both police and sell phone companies to address the issue proactively.

          • mmmsoap says:

            @shorty63136: Am I wrong in assuming that Verizon (and all the other telcos, for that matter) have a special law enforcement 800 number, that the cops call to get traces and phone histories, etc? I mean, I assume they don’t walk into the Verizon store in the mall. And they have GOT to be working with these phone companies on a daily basis, whether it’s to trace locations from cell phones, or get the above-mentioned phone records, etc, with duly authorized warrants, right? Yeah, maybe it takes an hour or two for the paperwork to process, but it’s not like the FBI called up verizon to get them to invent a way to track the woman.

            Obviously, most cases are tracing evidence, so they aren’t as time sensitive. Still, you’d think this kind of thing in general wouldn’t be totally out of the blue for Verizon.

            Ironically, if the woman herself had been able to dial 911, her location would have been displayed automatically to the 911 operator.

            • Ironically, if the woman herself had been able to dial 911, her location would have been displayed automatically to the 911 operator.@mmmsoap: Not true, at least in my experience. I have a Verizon phone with GPS. First off, if she dialed 911 with any phone from before this summer, the kidnapper would have known by the stupid 911 tone that Verizon mandated until someone almost got attacked b/c of it. Second, about a year ago, I had a deer hit my car. Not knowing what town in particular I was in, I called 911. In any other case I would have dialed the dispatcher for whatever town I was in directly. I live in Monmouth County NJ, which is pretty populated, and have a damn good local PD’s as well as a County police, which is why this area usually has at least one local town featured in the twenty safest cities. Actually, as I write this, a cop car just drove into the school parking lot across the street from me to do a sweep. That said, I had to describe landmarks for at least a minute to get the name of the road I was on, and then had to find a mailbox to get the address. The road I was on was a main county road which runs through a state park, so it’s pretty much the only road. If my location popped up automatically, why did I have to spend three minutes answering questions to know where I was?

              I think ideally, it works like that, but not sure if it does in real life. I’m sure Verizon’s tracking system is more precise, as they must use this data to help improve the network, and also to chart roaming, etc.

      • ViperBorg says:

        @spazztastic: Exactly correct, sir.

  2. Gopher bond says:

    I’m sure some paperwork and an approval and confirmation process is required. I mean, what if I’m an abusive boyfriend and I call up Verizon asking for location of my girlfriend. Are there standard forms to fill out for this? If I say I’m Sheriff Coltrane from Hazzard County, will that suffice? Is Verizon supposed to just hand that stuff over?

    • Nick1693 says:

      @testsicles: “Is Verizon supposed to just hand that stuff over?”

      I assume they would to confirmed law enforcement.

      • Gopher bond says:

        @Nick1693: But there must be some level of documentation that a corporation must do before they can confirm that. How can it be done over the telephone? I would imagine a police officer at a local Verizon retail store would be pointless. You’d need police officers at some Verizon HQ, speaking with someone in authority.

    • Moonshadows says:

      @testsicles: If the police properly identify themselves and they have an open abduction case absolutely. It’s not like it was a casual call they had a widespread police search happening and were seeking assistance.

      They have provided this information when needed in the past – that family who was lost in the Rockies was saved by a particularly dedicated technician who managed to track down a location based on their attempts to get a signal to call for help.

      I would say in this case – Boo Verizon.

      • Gopher bond says:

        @Moonshadows: I hear you, they should definitely acted quicker. But I was just wondering what situation would yield common sense confirmation that this is a proper course of action. Surely it’s not a police officer on the telephone. And surely it can’t be done at a local Verizon retail point. I’m just trying to figure out what the quickest way to get action would be. It sounds like the law enforcement agents in this case went through the 1-800 number. That’s the long way as it starts at the very bottom of the chain.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          @testsicles: A fax of something legal/official to corporate proving they’re real law enforcement officers?

          • Gopher bond says:

            @Rectilinear Propagation: A fax of what? Police Department letterhead? Easily faked. I propose that cell phone companies and state police organizations should set-up account codes or something like that for quick confirmation in instances like these.

            • Rectilinear Propagation says:

              A fax of what?
              @testsicles: Not being a law enforcement officer I wouldn’t know.

            • golfinggiraffe says:

              @testsicles: How about… the police officer who called identify himself as from such and such a police department and – wait for it, this is going to be a spectacularly amazing stroke of genius – have the CSR’s supervisor (or whomever) look up the contact for that station and call back to confirm they are who they say they are?

              What’s wrong with that?

  3. DarkForest says:

    Clearly the sheriff department has never read The Consumerist. If they had, they would have launched an EECB and gotten this resolved in a matter of hours.

  4. snoop-blog says:

    I do wonder how a different cell provider would have acted…

  5. Bladefist says:

    I live in KC where this all went down, the news of the city is this guy got life in jail, no chance for appeals, nothing. They were seeking the death penalty, but apparently Kelsey had a conversation with friends, not supporting the death penalty.

  6. godai says:


    In the video they say that Sprint says they would of had the info in an hour.

    Sprint also donated $10,000 to the reward fund and supplied the family with phones.

  7. Suttin says:

    This is so wrong, I really hope Verizon gets slammed with an obstruction of justice charge.

  8. Canino says:

    On the plus side, Verizon has probably already sent the family’s account to collections and reported them to credit bureaus.

  9. Landru says:

    Vile. That’s all I can say. It’s up there (or worse) with not letting a customer use the phone to call 911. They will probably claim that this was simply a training issue. What dirtbags.

  10. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Yeah, I realize they have to be tough to combat fraud, and all, but if I ever get abducted on camera and the police are yelling at sprint, I hope they find me asap.

    Then again, unless the police know the consumerist hotline, I would probably be bleached white bones by the time they got a live person :)

  11. AceEdit says:

    Having a police department asking for the information is not enough. They should have had a Judge subpoena Verizons’ legal department. The failure of Verizon to timely assist the authorities in the location may have doomed Kelsey Smith. Verizon will certainly be sued, but how do you put a price on such negligence? What is a human life worth to Verizon? Apparently, not much. Shame on you Verizon, your lack of effort shows your true colors.

  12. jstonemo says:

    I live in the KC area also and I doubt Sprint would have had the info in an hour. This same company has the worst network coverage of all the providers and IN THEIR HOME TOWN! The odds are that they wouldn’t have been able to find the signal from her phone at all.

  13. tenio says:

    I’m not sure if this is aplicable, but if you have “probable cause” to think that some1’s life is in danger (cough abduction tape cough) then a warrant is not required.

    • shorty63136 says:

      @tenio: “Probable cause” is used when you have a suspect and are trying to ascertain facts in the suspected commission of a crime. They didn’t have a suspect but already had proof (facts) that a crime occurred. I see what you’re saying though – they had the goods in-hand. Verizon should’ve cooperated.

  14. shorty63136 says:

    Unacceptable. While they’ve found that this young lady’s life wouldn’t have been saved had they gotten the information in a timely fashion, what if it COULD’VE been? What if her parents had to have a closed-casket service as a result?

    While I’m sure Verizon will try and use this as a means “improving training”, this is absolutely unacceptable. We’re talking about somebody’s child who is in danger.

    Do what you have to do to properly verify that this is law enforcement and cooperate fully.

    *scoff* And then you show up with an entourage of lawyers. How severely tacky.

    • the-perfect-face-for-radio says:


      “what if her parents had to have a closed-casket service as a result?”

      just what do you suppose a corpse looks like after four days in a wooded area like the one in the picture, with buzzards, coyotes, bobcats, rodents and insects nibbling on it?

      • shorty63136 says:

        @the-perfect-face-for-radio: I understand that, but the quote above from her mother implied that they might’ve had an open-casket service. I’m well aware of the effects of decomposition with full exposure to the elements.

        Still – 4 days. Unacceptable.

  15. JPinCLE says:

    I keep looking for a good reason to give up “the network” and this might be enough.

    I am SURE there is the “other side” to the story, but I also figure if it was that compelling a story to tell, maybe the 3 lawyers weren’t necessary.

    Have a PR person get up and do a brief press conference explaining exactly WHY they couldn’t comply if there was a damned good reason.

    Yeah, on second thought, if there was a good reason, they’d have probably made it clear, quickly and publicly.

  16. JGBrock says:

    In the interest of complete information, one must keep this in mind while reading any story with his name in it: Phil Kline is an asshole. A self-serving, egocentric, power-abusing, right-wing, fanatical asshole. This is a guy who issues a subpoena to a hotel in Wichita because it was near an abortion clinic and he wanted all the names of women who had ever stayed there. This is a guy who made plans for an ARMED raid of said clinic and told the officers (before a judge stopped it) that the doctor was probably armed so “don’t take any chances”

    If Phil Kline thinks Verizon has done something wrong, that is strong evidence that they did not.

  17. dj_skilz says:

    “Verizon, which has no problem helping the government spy on its customers”

    Correct me if I am wrong (with a link to reputable source), but Cellco Partnership d/b/a/ Verizon Wireless has never been named in an article referring to pre-FISA reform cooperation. Any article that has referred to Verizon, has been that of the parent company.

    It should be noted that Verizon Communications and Cellco Partnership d/b/a are infact NOT the same company.

    The Ownership of Cellco Partnership consists of Verizon Communications and the minority state held by Vodafone PLC. Verizon Wireless is a subsidiary, and NOT wholly owned.

    “Verizon Wireless Denied Involvement”
    One of many sources;

    From the EFF’s mouth directly (cached whitepaper)

    Just wanted to insert a counterpoint to the statement made. In the interest of full disclosure I am involved in the telecom industry, and a former employee of Verizon Wireless. I do my best to stay involved in issues surrounding legislation and telecom reform.

    • ThickSkinned says:

      @dj_skilz: I dug a little deeper and Verizon never said they did not cooperate with the NSA regarding the wiretapping. They only said the would not cooperate with the FBI unless the proper warrants were obtained. In fact, they are part of a suit regarding the tapping.

      EFF page showing cases against Verizon:

      CNET article regarding a judge refusing a Bush administration’s request to stop the lawsuit:

      • dj_skilz says:


        This article is in regards to Verizon (Landline), not Verizon Wireless.

        Again two different companies. Verizon Wireless is Really Cellco Partnership (Again owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone PLC). Verizon Communications does not have carte blance in decisions within VZW. Ergo the withdrawl of the suit in naming VZW.

        March 30, 2007
        Voluntary Dismissal of Verizon Wireless and other entities[PDF, 13.88 KB]
        Notice of Dismissal of Cellco Partnership (DBA Verizon Wireless); Nynex Coprporation; GTE Wireless, Inc.; GTE Wireless of the South, INc.; Nynex PCS, Inc.; Verizon Wireless of the East, LP; Verizon Internet Services, Inc.; Bell Atlantic Entertainment and Information Services Group; Verizon Internet Solutions, Inc.; Verizon Technology Corporation; and Verizon Advanced Data, Inc.



        This is the point I was trying to illustrate. The EFF and others commended Verizon Wireless for their stance on customer data. They have held the line thus far. Although now that the FISA reform for immunity has been granted, will they do the right thing considering no legal repercussions.

        A negative consequence of such protection, is the slowing down in response to information requests, so that they can be verified.

        The manner in which Law Enforcement conducted the request needs to be explained in full to understand how things unfolded.

  18. dj_skilz says:

    Might I add a cursory review will show instances where VZW strongly protected customer data (Cellphone Whitepages, telemarketing, DNC LIST, FISA).

    The burecracy of a company with a company approaching 70 million customers, with 70,000 employees is the culprit here. The policy is normally on the side of consumer protection (That in my opinion is the area VZW is starting to fail in, getting too big again)

  19. I think a lot of this has to do with the technicians and not the company. Whomever was on the call made the call, I don’t think they have company standards on this and this is where the issue arose.

    Its very sad. I would hate to think that if they started immediately that they would have found her alive.

  20. veterandem says:

    Christ that is heartless. So if the FBI/NSA/CIA can spy on us, why do they have to plead with Verizon to help locate a missing woman?

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad I’m with Sprint.

  21. Sugarless says:

    Sad. Verizon can spy on customers but not help this family in a timely manner?
    And then when Verizon meets with the family they bring lawyers which sets a defensive tone.

    Verizon, I can hear you and what you’re saying is crap.

  22. razremytuxbuddy says:

    This is really disturbing about Verizon, but couldn’t the DA do something more than argue on the phone with cell phone technicians? Couldn’t he have gotten a subpoena or emergency court order that night or certainly in less than 4 days; a document that would served on a company official who would know they had to comply immediately?

    Kline was an inexperienced prosecutor who wasn’t even elected to the DA job. He’s been a state legislator and then a one-term AG who lost his bid for reelection in part because he virtually dismantled the state’s Consumer Protection division it was his job to run; and instead targeted abortion clinics for prosecution. When the successful Johnson County DA beat Kline in the AG election, the Johnson County Republican cronies appointed the dethroned AG Kline to fill out the DA’s term. He won’t be elected to the DA job because he lost in last month’s primary.

    I’m picturing seasoned police detectives on a race to solve an abduction and possible murder, and all the DA knows how to do is get on the phone and argue with cell phone technicians. Maybe Phill Kline needed to log onto Consumerist and read up on how to do an EECB. Wow.

    Kelsey’s family and friends endured so much pain, and I don’t want to detract from that. But I can’t help but think they would have found her more quickly if they’d had a more experienced DA working on the Verizon yokels.

  23. magic8ball says:

    It’s weird to me that Verizon doesn’t have a policy for this kind of situation. Almost anyplace I can think of that I’ve ever signed a contract with for communication services includes a clause that says something along the lines of, “We will totally protect your personal information unless we have to give it up to law enforcement personnel.” So it’s not like they didn’t know this was a possibility.

  24. maztec says:

    They still have been able to obtain a warrant or subpoena. It generally would have taken less than an hour to call the emergency Judge on staff in that area to request it, get it signed off, and issue it to Verizon via Fax – who would probably have jumped at it.

    What gets me is the institutional incompetence in not issuing a request through that means (at least does not appear to have attempted to from the article). Most Judges would issue an order to a request like, “Judge, we have a girl, she was abducted on video, we need to locate her phone, Verizon is in charge of it, please issue an order for them to release the information to us.”

    If you are really in a hurry, have one person call Verizon and work on them, while the other gets the court order.

  25. Here’s what I wonder. Did she try dialing 911? If so, did she have the mandatory 911 tone on her phone? Could THAT have lead to her murder?

  26. suzapalooza says:

    Unfortunately this girl did not try dialing anything. Her parents and friends continued to call her phone when she did not show up where she was expected. Then her cell battery failed. Up to that point they tried to locate her based on which towers the signal used to reach her phone. She was found in the vicinity of the Verizon tower.

  27. suzapalooza says:

    ADD: she was abducted and bound so she could not dial.

  28. vespa59 says:

    Verizon, or any other company with personal data, should not give up that data without a warrant, period. It doesn’t matter if it’s cops asking for it, and it doesn’t matter if those cops say that someone’s been abducted. I don’t know what country you people live in, but where I live the cops and the authorities will say a lot of shady things to get information that they want. I, as a citizen and consumer, have to trust that companies will only give up information about me when ordered to do so by a judge that has that authority. There are reasons why police officers don’t have that authority and judges do.

    What I want to know is how long it took the authorities to go through the proper channels (i.e. getting a judge to issue a warrant or subpoena) and how long from that point it took Verizon to get the data to them. If it was four days from warrant to information, then yeah… fine… burn down Verizon and all. But if the cops bumbled around for four days, wasting time begging Verizon for data that they knew Verizon wouldn’t be legally obligated to give them, and which any consumer with half a brain would DUMP them as a provider for giving out, then for as much as I hate that company, I can’t fault them for doing the right thing.

    Privacy outrage swings both ways. You can’t be pissed at a company for giving The Man some information and at the same time be pissed at them for not giving him other information.

  29. ashamaniq says:

    Ouch… that’s some serious shit right there.
    shame on you Verizon.

    (I think AT&T might have provided the info in 3 days… which is still a lot better)

  30. mythago says:

    If Verizon were claiming “We’d have turned over that data in a minute, but we have these procedures we MUST follow to protect customers’ data and the FBI didn’t follow it,” that would have been one thing. If it were just technical incompetence?

    Bear in mind this IS a Fox News report we’re working off here.

    The fact that Verizon’s CEO showed up with lawyers in tow strikes me as a point in the Verizon Is Just Stupid category. What kind of message did he THINK the family was going to take away from that?

  31. kaitlind says:

    Something similar to this happened in Washington state in the last year or so. A woman didn’t come home from work. She had small children and her husband called the cops. Cell company (not sure which one) refused to talk to him because his name wasn’t on the account. I believe that after the required amount of time before you can file a missing persons report the cops tried to get the info also. Approx 8 days later they found her with a broken pelvis in a ditch cause she crashed her car. She didn’t die but was in the hospital for weeks afterwards.

    Then, a bit later a woman talked to her husband when he was on his way home from work. He said he was stopping at the store to buy some stuff so he could make cookies with the kids when he got home. He never returned. Cell co refused to see where his phone was. I dont know what ended up happening with that- whether or not they found his body.

    Anyways, I think that cell companies should have a waiver- sort of “in the event of an apparent emergency, I give you permission to communicate with my spouse….” Everyone argued that, at the time this guy dissapeared, the cell co should have worked with the cops to try to get a hold of him. If they found him and he wanted to be missing, they could tell his wife he didn’t want to be found, etc no harm done.

    Either way, I would want t-mobile to communicate with either my parents (I’m 20) or my boyfriend or whatever if I went missing. ESPECIALLY if it was suspicious as in this case.

  32. suzapalooza says:

    Having been a cell employee, I do know that a subpoena is required to access any data that is not your own. On more than one occasion we had police officers in our office asking for cell records of suspected drug dealers, but we were told they must have a subpoena submitted to the home office (Sprint in this case) in order to access anything if they were not the account holder. Which I agree with – I would NOT want my psycho ex (or mother if I was a student living my own life, or spouse if they were abusive) accessing my cell records. If “well, they had good reason” was applied, any of them would have enough data to verify anything on my account (other than the password). Really tough to substantiate that type of inquiry. We had a case in MO where the cell user was suicidal and his girlfriend was trying to track him down before he did something. They were able to locate the area of town he was in, but could not help her by providing her with the info, though they did for law enforcement (he was armed and therefore a public menace). For all they knew she was stalking him and he was trying to get away.

    In this case, though, Verizon should have moved much more expeditiously to allow access to the data to locate the girl. They have absolutely no excuse not to have done so. Knowing the girl was truly abducted (CAUGHT ON TAPE) and that nearly every other scenario had been vetted (the media coverage was relentless), someone just got their panties in a power wad and held up an investigation. Sadly, she was killed shortly after her kidnapping, but at least her family could have claimed her body before it had been out in the summer weather for several days, in the woods.

    Shame on Verizon.

  33. jhurley03 says:

    I will be passing this on to friends and family, so they know to never get service from Verizon!

  34. devsgurf says:

    I wonder if Verizon’s going to have to rethink their marketing strategy of having the whole network behind you.

  35. amed01 says:

    “…suddenly turned stupid in June…”
    Suddenly? Just from being a faithful reader of Consumerist I have learned that Verizon has been stupid for much longer than that!

  36. goodkitty says:

    This isn’t complicated. Helping the feds = not losing revenue due to regulation. Helping save lives and make the world a better place = no profit, in fact, it costs money.

  37. kryrinn says:

    It could have taken a subpoena or a warrant, but that was time Kline had to take off from destroying women’s rights, and with his attitude, you can see why he’d take a while.

    • razremytuxbuddy says:

      @kryrinn: You nailed it. Verizon’s acts are inexcusable here, but I don’t trust Kline’s motives for bringing this Verizon story out now. He is all about Phill Kline looking for his next job, and he is using Kelsey Smith’s family for it. Her family deserves all the publicity they need in order to tell their story, but Kline deserves nothing but scrutiny.

      My cell phone is with Alltel who is being bought by Verizon. My service is month to month, so with this story, I’m checking out the other providers.

  38. S-the-K says:

    I agree. If Verizon is going to help the government spy on terrorists, they should at least help locate missing persons. Geez! Is that too much to ask? And the President of Verizon is a major douche for lawyering up to visit the parents of the person he hindered to locate. It was as if Verizon wanted to aid and abet the kidnappers!

  39. mangr3n says:

    She was killed within 2 hours of the abduction. Within 3 hours the police were on the phone with Verizon. But at that time, no one knew she was dead!? I find the argument that the technicians were oblivious to the capabilities of their system ludicrous. Get a supervisor on the phone. If she hadn’t been killed for 4 hours, they still wouldn’t be responsible for her death. But they might have been sued, reasonably. In addition, I don’t know if the abductor/murderer was found, but I’m sure that 4 days completely changes the forensic evidence available.

    In the end, I want my cell phone company (which is Verizon) to honor the privacy my contract with them requires. It should take at least a subpoena to get that type of information from them.

  40. MrMcdoobie: I don't do drugs says:

    If you’re wondering how Verizon lets the government spy on us, check out FISA:


    It’s completely unconstitutional.

  41. jcrockerman says:

    Jack Bauer would have been all over the this.

    For shame, Verizon…for shame

  42. mosten says:

    I work for a major regional telephone company. A subpoena is absolutely required before customer information will be handed to LE. Under *no* circumstances is an exception made. First of all it is illegal, any evidence the LE finds with confidential information would be tossed out ultimately. Second, this would open the phone company to a lawsuit by the person the personal information belonged to. A subpoena can be obtained in a few minutes if the fact support the subpoena.

    Often times the information that LE is looking for has been archived and would need to be recovered from tape. In our case, 4 days is the minimum amount of time required to restore the tape since it has to come from a 3rd party storage facility. 4 days regardless of what that impact is.

  43. LucianaLabadoozie says:

    I haven’t heard anyone mention the possibility of Verizon protecting
    themselves. Is it feasible that those responsible for Kelsey’s death could
    be very powerful and dangerous, and would stop at nothing to seek out the
    people who are a threat to their capture? Can anyone reading this story
    really know how deep a murder case goes when you’ve been given so little
    information about it? Is it possible that a story of this nature going
    public could compromise the safety of more lives, namely employees of
    Verizon? Am I the only one reading this who has heard of people in the past
    that have helped a law enforcement/government agency and gone missing as a
    result? Yes, I do mourn the loss of Kelsey, and pray for comfort and peace
    for Parents and Family. I do hope that the people responsible for Kelsey’s
    death will reap what they have sown, and I believe they will, one way or
    another. Yes, I would think twice before helping a law
    enforcement/government agency, and fully understand what I may be getting
    myself into, and how expendable I or my family and friends may be. Could
    Verizon have responded quicker? Yes. Were they given sufficient time to
    fully grasp the severity of the situation they had been cornered into and
    how it could affect them, as well as the Public’s opinion of them? What
    would you do? Are you as untouchable as the President? I understand how
    easy it would be to place judgment on Verizon, or anyone for that matter.
    But when I read a story involving local and federal agencies, and I don’t
    know every detail, I bare in mind the corrupt side of our Government and Law
    Enforcement Agencies, and the number of lives impacted and lost as a result.

  44. Velifer says:

    @ vespa59 and mosten

    Those are corporate policies, not laws. It doesn’t take a subpoena, your company is making it a stated policy that they will not cooperate with law enforcement by requiring a subpoena. I work with data that is heavily protected by federal and state law, but if there was an immediate need because of risk to human life, there are ALWAYS ways to get the information where it needs to go, even if they have to drag it there in my head.

    I also have a small business, and in the extremely unlikely event that information I collect could be used to find a missing girl, a quick call-back to police HQ would be enough for me to cooperate by releasing information that is clearly applicable very specifically to the task of finding her.

    They didn’t ask for billing information, who she had called over the last year, or anything part of a long-running investigation. They asked where is this girl’s phone right now.

  45. LesterGaze says:

    (originally posted to gizmodo, didn’t see this one here):

    Similar case in King County (Washington) last year, except that some of the blame is shouldered by law enforcement.

    Tanya Rider was last seen on Thursday, Sept. 20.
    Reported missing on Saturday, Sept. 22.
    On Sunday, Sept. 23, the sheriff’s office attempts to determine if her car can be traced or located via electronic means.

    Monday, Sept. 24, “Investigator calls Verizon Wireless, and is told they will not provide any information to police about a subscriber’s account or other phone information without a subpoena or a court order.”

    Thursday, Sept. 27, “Major Crimes detectives calls Verizon, and they agree to review an “Exigent Circumstances” request from the Sheriff’s Office.” She’s found alive, trapped in her wrecked car, shortly afterwards, within the 5-mile radius of her last cell ping.

    Elapsed time from first request to Verizon to Verizon’s release of the cell tower information: 3 days.


  46. mommamae says:

    Kelsey’s phone was in her mother’s name. Mom requested info. Told can’t. Kline DID subpoena. Verizon did not comply. Verizon gave inaccurate information regarding Kelsey texting in the early morning HOURS after she was killed. Kline got Verizon on the phone with, FBI, DEA and OPPD and got the job done. Law enforcement HAD to tell them HOW to get it done.

  47. YadiraCastor says:

    Depending on yoiur state, there are various ways for emergency services to get informaiton. I know that Qwest and some other phone companies provide local 911 centers with access codes that we have to give them anytime we request a trace or location information, and you have to place the call from a specific phone (to prove you’re not some random person impersonating an officer). You still have to send them a letter on police letterhead signed by a supervisor stating there was an imminent emergency (and confirmed by the Chief of Police the next business day), along with a copy of the full police report. I assume there is some fairly large liability on their side, since once they start the trace, they start calling every 5 minutes asking why they don’t have the memo justifying the trace (often before the trace is even done).

  48. Novaload says:

    I would have refused to meet with any rep from Verizon had my family been needlessly put through this ordeal.
    What could the president or anyone else possibly say or do?
    OK; maybe I would have met with the president, if only to hand him some court papers.
    And in spite of all the speculation here as to why Verizon might not have responded more quickly to the request, note that the post says Verizon has remained silent on this; if there were a good explanation, as some of you hope, like the need for a subpoena etc–surely Verizon would have said that by now?
    And they haven’t.
    The silence is deafening.