Computers can help provide answers in crimes

FBI investigators analyzing Conn. school shooter's hard drive


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – FBI electronics experts are poring over a broken hard drive, trying to determine what is likely to be crucial evidence about how Adam Lanza planned his killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., with whom he exchanged messages, and what websites he visited.

Michael Knox, a retired Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective, says looking into the hard drive can help answer questions.

"We leave a much greater trail behind of what we do because our computers record information about what we do, where we've been, what we've been looking at, our emails," Knox said.

Investigators say Lanza's computer was heavily damaged and that its hard drive had been removed. They say forensic electronics experts at the FBI will examine the drive in an effort to determine with whom Lanza corresponded electronically and how he otherwise used the device.

"The most important part for the detectives working the case is, they want to make sure that it's just him, that there's nobody else involved that committed any crime that is relevant to this, nobody helped him plan it, nobody put him up to it or anything like that," Knox said.

Knox said besides finding out whether he acted solely in the mass killings, detectives also can maybe find a motive.

"Has he communicated with anybody giving any indications of what his intent was, what his purpose was, and what drove him and motivated him to do this?" Knox said.

He said detectives use technology to trace the tendencies of the people committing crimes to help them figure out why these atrocities take place, because many times asking the killer isn't an option.

"The difficulties with mass murders is that in most occasions they're either killed or more likely kill themselves in the process of committing the offense," Knox said.

Knox said he doesn't think technology makes a difference in helping killers figure out how to commit such crimes.

"If you're talking about somebody who's incredibly motivated, like somebody who would do this type of an act, it is difficult to say whether taking that technology out of their hands would in any way stop them," Knox said.

Police said they are looking into every possible detail to try to uncover why Lanza -- armed and geared up for battle -- went to a school seemingly at random and killed so many innocent people.