back to article Woman accused of killing boyfriend after tracking him down with Apple AirTag

A woman in the US has been charged with murder after she allegedly tracked down her boyfriend using an Apple AirTag and ran him over after seeing him with another lady. Gaylyn Morris, 26, found her partner Andre Smith, also 26, at Tilly’s Pub in an Indianapolis shopping mall with the help of the gadget in the early hours of …

  1. Trigun

    I wonder if people will start sueing Apple of the (mis)use of the AirTag? Might depend on the T&Cs, I suppose. Not that I think that they should as this maniac is responsible for her own actions.

    If she's convicted I hope she gets prison for a looong time.

    1. Rustbucket

      "If she's convicted I hope she gets prison for a looong time."

      Indianapolis has the death penalty but Life without Parole is a more common sentence these days. Either way, she won't be seen on the street again.

      The manner of the death is so brutal the judges may go for option one.

      1. badflorist

        Brutal? Vehicular homicide caused by a crime of passion? She'll do 10 years real time.

        FWIW, if he was cheating on her he was asking for it. Just another Earth day, 7 billion minus 1.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          > if he was cheating on her he was asking for it.

          Ah, the "asking for it" defence, beloved of domestic abusers worldwide. You're a real class act.

          1. badflorist

            "You're a real class act."

            NIce! :-)

        2. gotes

          FWIW, if he was cheating on her he was asking for it

          Whilst he was in the wrong, I don't think murder is an appropriate response.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      If she's convicted

      Should be more like when she’s convicted.

      I appreciate its America and any excuse could be used to not convict but it should be a certainty she will be convicted even given the few details we have in this story.

      1. Trigun

        Oh I agree: It looks like she is a murderer, but there are edge cases when there was more to it which wasn't reported or the reporting was wrong. Also, everyone deserves their day in court.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Protecc the wahmen.

        Get ready for the feminist protests.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          1 out of 10, must troll harder

        2. lotus49

          Incel spotted.

          Take your tiny penis and troll elsewhere.

      3. VoiceOfTruth

        -> I appreciate its America and any excuse could be used to not convict

        Hmm. You don't know that the USA has the world's biggest prison population rate? And a lot of good it does them. Not.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          > Hmm. You don't know that the USA has the world's biggest prison population rate? And a lot of good it does them. Not.

          Ahh, but this doesn't involve drugs, m'kay?

          If there was even spec of crack on the floor of the car she'd be going away for life. But murder that doesn't involve drugs? Just assault with a deadly weapon.

          Remember kids, drugs are bad, m'kay.

    3. tmTM

      There's alot of alternative products out there doing exactly the same job, many had been on the market for a long time before Apple got in the game.

      1. Plest Silver badge

        And low the Lord and saviour Saint Jobs before ascending to heaven did annoint Tim the chosen one. Saint Jobs did say unto Tim, "Thou shalt hold no other technology before Apple. If others commit the sin of invention before claims by Apple, thou shoudst brand them with the mark of a lawyer and sue them into the fiery pit of hell. Thus the piety of my church will remain pure. So let thy will be written and let thy will be done."

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        But Apple's Find My network increases the stalking capabilities of the AirTag. There's plenty of discussion and research in this area by security researchers.

    4. John D'oh!

      Why Apple and not Chevrolet?

  2. IceC0ld

    we are used to seeing / hearing how people can make certain things do as they wish, with a bit of 'persuasion'

    but for the Air Tag, it appears that the ability to use it for nefarious purposes are hard baked right in there :o(

    maybe Apple WILL get some court cases brought against it, and maybe they DO deserve to be held accountable

    but that was one particularly spiteful female, who really does deserve some serious alone time in jail

    1. lotus49

      I am constantly surprised to find how few people knew that such devices have been easily available for years - long before Airtags existed. You had to buy them on AliExpress rather than your local Apple shop but it's been easy to track people if you really wanted for years.

      This is not Apple's fault.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        > You had to buy them on AliExpress rather than your local Apple shop but it's been easy to track people if you really wanted for years.

        Sorta yes, sorta no.

        Yes GPS trackers have been around for decades, but the price of entry was - relatively - steep.

        In the early days (90's to early 2000's) you basically had to buy them from 'spy' shops, and they weren't cheap, they'd cost at least as much as a low-end phone, $100-$200 or so.

        Then you had to buy a SIM, and get an account (usually pre-paid) created, which costs more $ and requires much more effort.

        Then they became cheaper and easier to get as places like AliExpress came along, and prices dropped to about $40, but then you still had to go through the hassle getting a pre-paid SIM for it, etc. But you generally still ahd to wait a week or 2 to actually receive the unit after buying it, enough time to cool off and think better of your revenge plan.

        With the AirTag, you just walk into an Apple Store or even just the Apple section in an existing chain-store, pay you $40 or whatever it is, walk out with it 'register' it to your Apple account, no SIM for the device necessary since it doesn't connect to the cell-phone network as it piggybacks onto other already cell-enabled devices (iPhones).

        It's the same as privacy problems around police surveillance. Sure, the cops could always see with their own eyes a person in public, or decide to follow someone in their car. But that takes manpower, time, effort, money to do. So it didn't happen often or on a long-term or large blanket-scale due to the cost of doing it. But as technology has evolved, it has become problematic due to the reduced barriers to entry. Want to follow someone? Attach a GPS tracker to their car, hell, buy 100 GPS trackers and tack them onto 100 random cars for the cost of a couple days work, and now you can follow 100 people for a month before the battery runs out. Or place a camera on a utility pole in front of someone's house for 6 months to monitor them, no teams of plainclothes cops sitting in cars or vans outfront, not even surveillance or wire-tap warrants needed. Easy. Don't get me started on ANPR and reverse cell-tower dump warrants and so on.

        Apple has reduced the barrier to entry from a not trivial expense and effort, more than most people are willing to expend - certainly difficult enough to not be an impulse-buy opportunity, to a trivial amount of money and effort that a spur of the moment decision can implement in 20 minutes - "hey, I want to track this person, there's an Apple store right there, I can just go in, buy an airtag off the shelf, spend 2 minutes registering it to my Apple account, and dump it in their back seat all for $40 and 20 minutes effort most of which is waiting in line to pay for it".

        Airtags have become a 'force multiplier' in the ability for the impulse-control-deficient to track and monitor their victims.

        1. tip pc Silver badge

          Apple has reduced the barrier to entry from a not trivial expense and effort, more than most people are willing to expend - certainly difficult enough to not be an impulse-buy opportunity, to a trivial amount of money and effort that a spur of the moment decision can implement in 20 minutes - "hey, I want to track this person, there's an Apple store right there, I can just go in, buy an airtag off the shelf, spend 2 minutes registering it to my Apple account, and dump it in their back seat all for $40 and 20 minutes effort most of which is waiting in line to pay for it".

          I think you’ve watched to many Hollywood movies.

          I got a Tile tracker in 2018 as a secret Santa present at work.

          Cost less than £20.

          On the strength of that I bought 4 more.

          People put them in their cars etc to use as theft trackers. On their pets, car keys etc.

          The advantage of Tile is that we as a family can share the locations of our trackers amongst ourselves so if I take her car keys and loose them at work, I can locate the, from my app, likewise if I take the dog out and he dies a runner.

          We have AirTags too and the radar can be useful on later iPhones, but we can’t share locations of our tags on our family so she has a tag on the dog and I can’t use it to locate him when he’s off chasing squirrels, likewise with car keys and everything else.

          I also get an annoying message that a tag is following me around despite us all living in the same household so our tags are often within the same meter and have the same locations for years.

          Back to this story, she could have tailed him instead of buying an AirTag.

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Hard baked in

      @IceC0ld “but for the Air Tag, it appears that the ability to use it for nefarious purposes are hard baked right in there”

      It is just a tracking device for tracking your property. No different from the tracker for your phone or having an aftermarket tracker in your car, which I have on all my motorcycles. Sure, it can be used for nefarious purposes as can all tracking devices. In this case she could have just left her phone in the car and tracked it.

      The ability to use it for nefarious purposes is no more hard baked in than any other tracking device.

  3. vekkq

    not sure of the gadget enabled the killing or just accelerated it

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Enabled

      Had it not occurred then, the victim would have had more time to extricate themselves from the relationship, take legal protective measures such as restraining orders etc.

      All that stuff takes time, so any "acceleration" is enabling, by definition.

      It's also reasonably plausible that the murder only occurred at all because the stalker was able to follow them. It is well known that people are far more likely to murder when they think they found the victim "in the act" of whatever slight they suspected.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Enabled

        @vekkq “All that stuff takes time, so any "acceleration" is enabling, by definition.”

        The car was parked before she ran him over. The car would have had to accelerate from 0mph to the speed it hit him at. By your definition "any "acceleration"" that acceleration was also enabling.

        “It's also reasonably plausible that the murder only occurred at all because the stalker was able to follow them.”

        A tag is not required to follow someone, she could also have followed him the old fashioned way from a distance with her car and her eyes.

        1. Falmari Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Enabled

          My mistake I meant @Richard 12 not @vekkq in my post above.

          Apologies to vekkq.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Accelerated

      There's a car joke in there somewhere, but decency made me put the brakes on

  4. tip pc Silver badge

    Ban cars?

    Another tragic death.

    While the tracker is blamed surely the car was the weapon that caused the death so should get more blame?

    Ultimately it was the girlfriend who made the decision to attack, first with the bottle in the bar then the car in the street.

    Why did she think attacking the boyfriend was an ok thing to do.

    She did the detective work, witnessed what she perceived as wrong doing, confronted him and then appears to not have thought the next steps through.

    If he had wronged her then ending the relationship would have been the better choice than running him down.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Ban cars?

      Cars have a critical legitimate use - without them the economy would fall apart.

      I suspect you're trying that argument as a way to say arguments about gun control are bad, except guns aren't necessary for the USA to operate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ban cars?

        We didn't, as a nation, kill and pillage our way across the world in the latter half of the last millennia in cars. The UKs economy didn quite well without them

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Ban cars?

          "...We didn't, as a nation, kill and pillage our way across the world in the latter half of the last millennia in cars. The UKs economy didn quite well without them..."

          Indeed. Big ships, big guns, an army and navy and a perpetual world view of "Oh nice country you have here old chap. I now call it mine".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ban cars?

            But, as Eddie Izzard once pointed out, people 'stole' countries by asking a simple question: "Do you have a flag"?

          2. Trigun

            Re: Ban cars?

            That's certainly one view on it and you are of course welcome to it. I feel that it lacks historical context, though.

            Back then everyone was trying to conquor each other: Some won and some lost. This has been a pattern *throughout history*.

            The lesson to take away is that we should defend what is ours, but not take what belongs to someone else. There are of course grey areas and that's where we need discussion.

            1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

              Re: Ban cars?

              Which rather brings us round to the story (away from gun control and colonialism anyway). The Lady in the story appeas to have decided that the gentleman was her property and that if she couldn't own him, no one could. I am sure that the court will go into the ins and outs of that possible assumption fully.

            2. sabroni Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Back then everyone was trying to conquor each other

              "Being invaded" is not an attempt to conquer someone else.

              FFS.

      2. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Ban cars?

        Cars have a critical legitimate use - without them the economy would fall apart.

        I suspect you're trying that argument as a way to say arguments about gun control are bad, except guns aren't necessary for the USA to operate.

        I'm all for gun control, its a fact that more people die by guns in states with lax gun controls than states with more controls.

        my point was that the AirTag was not responsible for what ultimately happened, I'm sure if she had a gun she would have used that instead of the car and probably shot the boyfriend and his lady companion too.

        the aunt mentioned tracking devices should not be available to the public

        In an interview with WNDY-TV in Marion, Indiana, Smith's aunt Reneka Day said, "Those tracking devices should not be used by the public. They should not be available to the public. They should only be used for hospitals and law."

        as much as I think its irrational I'd maybe think the same if my loved one was slain like this, but I'd maybe blame the car for the act more than the tracking device, if she was that way of mind then she should not be driving or using a gun or have access to any weapons of any kind. An air tag is not a weapon though and can't be readily used as a weapon.

        1. Ghostman

          Re: Ban cars?

          You must be one of those that post what your controllers tell you to.

          Check what states have the highest homicide rate per capita. Then look at what states have the more restrictive gun laws.

          While you're at it, look at Kennesaw, Ga. They have a mandatory ownership law on the books. Only if you have a moral or religious objection to firearms ownership, a physical disability, or mental disability you are exempt. If you can pass the Form 4473 and background check, you are required to have a firearm in your home.

          Check what their crime rate is.

      3. nintendoeats Silver badge

        Re: Ban cars?

        Depressingly, I get the impression that people who carry a gun for self-defense in the US might legitimately need them to not die. Gun crime in the US is at epidemic proportions, I somehow doubt that instantly disarming the non-criminals will curb that. Turning firearms from a "need" to a "privilege" is going to be a long and complex process, because you do need to do something to actually bring gun crime down first.

        I am very happy to be in Canada where we do not need carry rights (but I'd like to keep my range guns please -_-).

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Ban cars?

          I propose the world solve the American gun problem by progressively moving the Canadian border south 10 miles every month. As a bonus, it might make the USAsians nicer.

          1. nintendoeats Silver badge

            Re: Ban cars?

            Oh no, please don't make their problems into ours any more than they already are :/

          2. In Like Flynt
            Pint

            Re: Ban cars?

            I'm fine with that, as long as they stop at the Mason-Dixon line. There ain't no fixin' people below that point... and I say that as an American who was born in Florida, now living in Canada!

        2. lglethal Silver badge
          Go

          Re: Ban cars?

          Actually, based on experiences elsewhere (e.g. Australia), removing guns from the general public even if the criminals keep theirs, reduces the number of deaths from crime. The reason, if a criminal knows that the person they're sticking up will not have a gun, they do not have any incentive to "shoot first". Nobody, outside of someone deliberately trying to kill someone else as in this article, really wants to add a murder rap to a robbery rap, if they dont have to, and so long as they dont feel threatened.

          Removing the guns, wont bring down the crime rate, but it will do a very big job of bringing down the murder rate. And as the guns slowly get taken out of circulation, (thanks to police raids, amnesty's, buy backs, etc.) then the armed crime rate will start going down as well.

          But it takes a certain level of bravery to make this happen, and your politicians absolutely do not have the spine for it. Sorry to say.

          1. nintendoeats Silver badge

            Re: Ban cars?

            Who is "our" in this case? Clearly the Canadian politicians do have the spine for that, because they are absolutely doing this...even though we do not have carry rights (which I'm generally glad for), and the only legal uses for a civilian to have firearms are sport shooting, hunting, and defense from animals. Canadian gun culture is heavily aligned with those uses, and it doesn't have much tolerance for people who don't respect that. I could go on here, but frankly my irritation level starts to rise heavily after that.

            American politicians don't have the spine to implement gun control because they genuinely fear that a civil war will break out if they do.

            Your Australian example absolutely has value, but it's not going to carry any weight in American politics because they are so polarized that even the most mild firearms control is viewed as unacceptable by 2A enthusiasts. The proposed effect will only happen if "everyday carry is actually illegalized, and that's a lot more than "mild". (As I mentioned earlier, the Australian example isn't relevant in Canada where the vast majority of legal firearms owners respect the existing laws about carrying firearms, there are serious legal penalties for those who do not, and Canadian gun culture actually encourages narcing on people who do not follow the law).

            1. lglethal Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Ban cars?

              Clearly I was talking about American politicians not having the Spine. I honestly thought that was clear and obvious, but apparently not...

              1. nintendoeats Silver badge

                Re: Ban cars?

                Well you said "your politicians" and I quite clearly said that I was Canadian.

      4. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Ban cars?

        Nobody needs a fully automatic transmission.

      5. John D'oh!

        Re: Ban cars?

        "Cars have a critical legitimate use - without them the economy would fall apart".

        I'm not convinced of that. Yes things would be different but I don't think it would be the end of the world.

  5. sreynolds Silver badge

    Are all fanbois enablers?

    If you need some apple device to report on the tag then aren't all of the apple users accomplices?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Are all fanbois enablers?

      No. Accomplice has a relatively strict definition, and being useful to a criminal while not having a clue that a crime is occurring is usually not in it. Nor am I an accomplice if I'm in a traffic jam which delays police enough for a suspect to escape.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Air Tags

    A rundown success story.

    What?

    Too soon?

  7. storner
    Facepalm

    I look forward to the day

    that gun manufacturers commit to making their products "less useful for misuse".

  8. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Lessons learned

    "And Smith was carrying an Apple iPhone."

    So, did he ignore the alert when his iPhone notified him an AirTag was around? Lesson is, don't ignore the alert.

    Or, did his iPhone not alert him? Lesson is, don't give your girlfriend access to your unlocked iPhone, she might use it to register an AirTag.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Lessons learned

      @yetanotheraoc "Or, did his iPhone not alert him?"

      Because maybe Bluetooth was switched off on his phone. Or maybe the phone was switched off (powered down).

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Lessons learned

        Except I think switching off bluetooth doesn't actually switch off bluetooth? It disconnects any of your external devices, but Apple still uses bluetooth for other functions. Powering down the phone does it, though.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: Lessons learned

          @yetanotheraoc Cheers, I did not know that about Bluetooth on an iPhone.

    2. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: Lessons learned

      You've seen the state of the notification bar on the average phone screenshot though. I think a sizable chunk of people treat notifications as trophies or Pokémon, to be collected at all costs.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Lessons learned

        "You've seen the state of the notification bar on the average phone screenshot though."

        No, I haven't seen that. I've seen only my own phone, which doesn't have any old notifications showing.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Lessons learned

      I think the alert only happens when Apple notices consistent connection with a tag over some time (useful for long-term stalking, for example). If the attacker only used it for a short time before attacking, it might not have triggered a warning. I'm also not sure how often the tracker has to be in contact with the phone to trigger it--this one was tracking a car, so if the victim wasn't in the car very often, that too could lower the chance of triggering their alert. I'm not sure exactly how their alert system calculates when a concerning association is there, but I would assume there wasn't an alert by the time she chose to murder him.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Lessons learned

        @doublelayer Apple’s website says the alert will not trigger unless the tag is separated from it’s owner. I assume this means the alert will trigger after period of time has passed from the point when it was able to talk to your phone but not the owners phone and still can talk to your phone.

        I am assuming the alarm is set to trigger at 30 mins or less. Because the Apple’ website shows a picture of a phone doing that. The time on the phone is 9:41 and the alert says the Air tag was first seen with you at 8:50.

  9. First Light Silver badge

    Gofundme

    I know posters don't usually put this on here, but the victim does have a kid, so for those who feel like it . . .

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/andre-a-smith

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