Friday, July 13, 2007

Delete Does Not Mean Deleted

Texting is more popular in Europe than it is in the States. People text message one another constantly, sort of like dropping a little note or firing off a quick postcard. Just wanted to say hello. See you L8R. Love You. You're everything to me.

You read it, you delete it, it's done. Except that the text message or the voice mail or the e-mail is not really gone away. It continues to exist in some vast electronic database, where those in authority, some organization like An Garda Siochana, for example, can listen to it long after you think it's been deleted.

"The affair was over," said Joe O'Reilly, after he finally admitted to detectives that he was indeed having an affair. His wife had just been murdered, so of course he wouldn't admit he was seeing another woman. Looks very bad, that sort of thing. Once caught in the lie, he adjusted his story and told detectives that the affair was over.

Earlier in the week, some e-mails that Mr. O'Reilly sent to his sister were presented in court. She of course thought that after reading them and erasing them, they were gone. In fact, the e-mails continued to exist, messages that put a lie to Mr. O'Reilly's assertions that his marriage was solid. Stating that his wife disgusted him would hardly point to a solid, loving relationship.

In the courtroom yesterday, where the Rachel O'Reilly murder trial continues, Sgt. Michael Gubbins read out transcripts of text and voice messages that passed between Joe O'Reilly and Nikki Pelley, the other woman in the case. Lovely sentiments expressed therein...Love you... Miss and love beautiful bride to be.

That "bride to be" business was texted on 5 September, not too long before Rachel O'Reilly was found dead in her home. Hardly the stuff of an ended affair, but then again, Joe O'Reilly believed that hitting the delete key erased the evidence that is now being piled ever higher on his head. As it turns out, the evidence is all still there, in stark contrast to the many lies and obfuscations that he thought would cloud the picture.

Something to keep in mind if you're writing a murder mystery and are looking for a clever way for the cops to crack the case.

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