Sept. 4, 2013
The cellphone of missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy has been found, the FBI announced Tuesday.
Alexis' family has said her white iPhone 4 was like her lifeline. Family members joked about how she would fall asleep with the phone in her hand. "It just really verifies what we already knew. She did not leave of her own accord," said Trina Murphy, Alexis' great-aunt, on Tuesday. "We have mixed emotions about it."
Sgt. Kevin Davis, of the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said Alexis' heavy phone use should prove helpful. "If she's a typical youth where her phone is her lifeline, that will reveal a lot," said Davis, who is not directly involved in the case. "More than likely, they'll be able to get a lot of useful information off of her cellphone.
Murphy said Tuesday the FBI took several phones to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, though investigators have not revealed to the family where Alexis' phone was found. "They're being specifically tight-lipped about that," she said.
Davis said different features on a cellphone, especially pictures, can help investigators build a timeline. Some phones, particularly smart phones, have a feature called geotagging.
Geotagging will embed coordinates of where a photograph was taken within that image. "It's information that gets attached to pictures," Davis said. "Geotagging is probably the biggest piece of information."
Alexis' call and text message history
should reveal whom she was in touch with before her disappearance. However, Davis said, Alexis' phone may not point directly to the missing teen's whereabouts. "It kind of is just like interviewing another witness," he said. "The witness can only give investigators new leads."
Investigators had asked for the public's help in finding Alexis' phone. The FBI did not specify Tuesday where or when the phone was found, only saying it was one of "several phones" recovered during the course of this investigation.
In an FBI news release Tuesday morning, authorities said "absolutely no further information" will be released aside from the positive identification of Alexis' phone.
"This sole release of information is only being made to advise the public that we no longer need assistance looking for that one item," the FBI said.