Local News

Computer forensics helped solve Craigslist robberies

Posted January 13, 2009 5:29 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2009 11:04 a.m. EST

— Durham County prosecutors who wrapped up two robbery cases last week involving the online classifieds site Craigslist say computer forensics played a key role in the case.

Three men – Edwin Langolis, 21, Jahid Diggs, 17, and Ashton Darielle Byrd, 17 – were arrested in June on robbery charges in connection with the crimes, which occurred May 5 and May 17.

In both cases, the victims reported that they were responding to an online listing for a motorcycle.

The first victim, a 36-year-old Virginia man, said several armed men approached him and robbed him of a ring, a cell phone and $4,000 in cash. The second victim, a 34-year-old Greensboro man was able to get away after a teenager pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him.

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Stormy Ellis said Durham police were able to trace the suspects to an e-mail address associated with the Craigslist posting to a computer modem, and with the help of Time Warner Cable, to the home of one of the suspects.

"We found a tremendous amount of Craigslist  ads that were placed using that computer," said Ryan Johnson, a consultant with Forward Discovery, which was contracted to track down the electronic paper trail which wrapped up the case.

"And we also found e-mail to and from potential victims, as well as the victims who were robbed in this situation," Johnson said. "The computer evidence has shown to be be very damning."

Diggs pleaded guilty in October and received an active sentence of 38 to 55 months in prison. Byrd pleaded guilty in November and received 20 to 33 months of probation.

Langolis, the suspected ring leader, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to 61 to 83 months in prison followed by another 61 to 83 months of probation.

Ellis said that although two cases were solved, she is concerned there could be more victims.

A third case was thwarted, she believes, when Durham police officers saw a man driving around looking to meet someone to buy an Acura.

"The key is for victims to come forward and being as helpful as possible to police," she said.