Smartphone app helps rescue woman

By Marielena Balouris | mbalouris@wtajtv.com

Published 02/17 2016 11:40PM

Updated 02/17 2016 11:40PM

A young woman kidnapped by an ex-boyfriend -- brought home thanks to State Police and an app her mother used.
 
According to the criminal complaint, 18-year-old Joseph Boller approached his ex-girlfriend, duct taped her wrists together and forced her to climb inside the trunk of her car.  Once she was inside, he taped her ankles together and her mouth shut.  He drove to a friend's house, where he dropped off their child.
 
While the victim was in the trunk, she texted her mother for help.  That text may have saved her.
Her mom was able to use the "Find My iPhone" feature to locate her daughter.  She then alerted state police.
 
Trooper Jeff Petucci of the PA State Police said, "We use technology in the course of our investigations but in this case, that application on her cell phone was very helpful in determining where actually she was located and that made it quite easy for our troopers then to locate the vehicle because we knew it was in that general vicinity."
 
Boller drove west on Interstate 80, from East Stroudsburg, PA to Milesburg, PA.  He stopped at McDonalds at the Milesburg exit, which is where State Police found them.
 
"I will say that she was very scared, very frightened and she actually, when she got out of the vehicle, she actually grabbed on to our troopers so. it was a very obviously frightening experience for her," said Trooper Petucci.  
 
So how can your smartphone keep you safe? For iPhone users, you can log into the Find my iPhone app and track an iPhone, if you know the person's Apple ID and password.  But it won't work if you don't have the login information, so you can't track a random person.   And Apple devices aren't the only phones that have this technology.  Online safety expert Bill Latchford says most smartphones have some sort of tracking app. 
 
Latchford, who founded Protect Children Online, said, "If you can just keep up with the technology half way and not be intimidated by the technology because our children certainly aren't intimidated by it, it will go a long way to keep children safe."
 
In this case, using "Find My iPhone" was successful in bringing a young woman to safety.
 
Boller was placed in the Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of a $150,000 straight bail.  His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for February 24th. 

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