KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) -- Popular technology is getting into the hands of criminals using it to kill.
Two local men have been indicted in federal court for buying small GPS trackers used to follow people for the purpose of having them murdered.
The indictment, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, involves two separate murders and tracking devices easily purchased from major retailers.
The official charges are for “conspiring to commit cyberstalking” and “aiding and abetting cyberstalking resulting in death.”
The men charged are Michael Smith, age 35, and Dontay Campbell, age 32. They are both charged with one count of each crime. Smith is also charged with a second count of the latter.
The first murder was on March 16th, 2019 at Happy Foods, a grocery store at 31st and Myrtle. The charges say Dontayus Wiles was shot and killed when leaving the store with his wife.”
In that case, the charges say Campbell bought the device on an Amazon account in his name, using a credit card in his name, then used a bank card in his name to activate it. The charges then allege both Campbell and Smith followed the victim using the device, which had been attached to the victim’s red Chevy Tahoe.
It says the pair then laid in wait and ambushed the victim, with Smith firing more than a dozen times to kill Wiles.
The other related murder was on December 12th, 2019. Candace Craig, a mother of four, was shot and killed at an apartment complex near Highland and Paseo. A neighbor said she was visiting her sister. The charges indicate someone placed a tracker on her white Nissan Altima, laid in wait in the parking lot, then ambushed her as she was leaving the apartment, firing multiple times, killing her.
In that case, the charges allege the device was activated in Smith’s name and the tracking service paid for using a bank card in his name. The charges do not indicate who exactly followed and killed Craig.
We searched for GPS micro trackers on a major retail site and found numerous of listings from multiple companies priced around $30. KCTV5 is not naming the company for the specific device named in the charging documents because that company is not accused in the charges of any wrongdoing.
We did, however, speak with the agency manager for the company.
He said the devices are marketed to people like parents who want to keep track of teen drivers, companies which want to track fleet drivers, and loved ones who want to track elderly drivers, including those with dementia, in case they get lost.
He said they don’t do criminal background checks on potential buyers, because they’re meant for widespread consumer use, but they do keep the credit cards used to buy them on file.
That credit and debit card information appears to have been crucial to investigators to connect the men to the crimes.
The charges do not include murder. Murder charges have not been filed yet for either case.