Summary:  More than two years after a child’s death, a Facebook posting triggered an investigation that led to a murder charge.

Facebook and other social media are so popular today that even lawbreakers are using them. Sometimes gang members chronicle their activities in cyberspace, insurance cheaters post pictures of themselves participating in challenging physical activities, and lawbreakers share secrets with online friends. All of this information can prove useful in both criminal investigations and prosecutions.

In one recent case, a Facebook posting led to a murder charge in the case of an 11-month-old Virginia Beach girl. On May 6, 2009 Lakeira Calahan died of unexplained injuries. Her uncle served a one-year sentence because he had not sought medical care for her. But police could not determine who had caused Lakeira’s injuries, and no murder charges were filed.

The case was reopened more than two years later when someone forwarded incriminating Facebook messages to Child Protective Services. Julie M. Calahan, Lakeira’s mother, confided to an online friend that she had hurt both her daughter and an older son, Levontae, who was taken away from her.  “Sometimes I just want to die for what I did,” she wrote.

Police questioned Calahan and then charged her with second-degree murder. On August 1, a Circuit Court grand jury will decide whether her case should go to trial. Calahan also faces two felony counts of child abuse against her children and remains in custody without bond in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.

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