A teen in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, was arrested and charged in the shooting death of a fellow teen after police identified him through a selfie he took posing in front of the body.
Maxwell Morton, 16, was charged as an adult for killing 16-year-old Ryan Mangan; he faces counts of criminal homicide, first-degree murder and possession of a firearm. Morton’s selfie was sent via Snapchat to a friend, whose mother saw it and contacted authorities.
“I've never seen it before,” District Attorney John Peck said. “But it was a key piece of evidence that led investigators to the defendant.” The young man who received the disturbing photo reportedly saved it before it deleted itself and subsequently presented it to his mother. The photo showed Mangan sitting in a chair with a gunshot wound to the face.
Morton also, according to police, sent out text messages that read, “Told you I cleaned up shells,” and “Ryan was not the last one.” Mangan's mother discovered her son's body on Wednesday.
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“This is really a question about criminal pathology rather than technology,” said Pamela Rutledge, a psychology and social media instructor at Fielding Graduate University. “Perpetrators in need of validating their power and sense of self-importance have used all kinds of communications to ‘brag' about criminal activities — from the local hangout to social media, like Facebook.”
A hearing for Morton has been scheduled for Feb. 19.