Murder victim's Fitbit data leads to alleged killer's arrest

The device recorded when the victim's heart beat stopped, police say.

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Steven Musil
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A California woman's Fitbit has provided clues to police investigating her death, leading to murder charges against her 90-year-old stepfather.

Karen Navarra's Fitbit recorded a rapid rise in her heart rate before a sudden drop-off to nothing, offering San Jose police a clearer time frame of her death on Sept. 8, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. Tony Aiello was arrested last Wednesday in connection with his 67-year-old stepdaughter's death.

Investigators noticed Navarra was wearing a Fitbit, a wristband that tracks daily fitness metrics like heart rate, steps taken and sleep, and they turned to the company for any possible clues the device could provide. Police learned that Navarra's heart rate spiked at 3:20 p.m. and stopped registering a heart beat eight minutes later, the Chronicle reported.

Aiello has reportedly denied killing Navarra. Nearby cameras captured images of Aiello's car parked at Navarra's home on Sept. 8 at the same time her Fitbit showed her heartbeat rapidly falling and stopping, the newspaper reported.

The case underscores how the devices that surround us can serve as important witnesses in court. Data from fitness trackers has helped form timelines, track movements and provide other valuable information.

A Connecticut man was charged with the 2015 murder of his wife after her Fitbit showed her last movements had taken place nearly an hour after the time that he'd told police she'd been killed. A Wisconsin man's Fitbit exonerated him of his girlfriend's 2016 murder when it showed his movements during the time police say her body was dumped in a field.  

Fitbit declined to comment on the case, and Aiello couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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