SAN DIEGO–A jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts in an indictment charging a Michigan man with interstate stalking of a woman.
According to evidence presented at trial and the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Computer and Technology Crime Hi-Tech Response Team, Brian Curtis Hile traveled to San Diego from Michigan in August 2011 with the intent to kill a female victim and her boyfriend. Prior to traveling from Michigan to San Diego, Hile engaged in an online relationship, which spanned a couple of years. During the course of that online relationship, Hile exchanged romantic communications and explicit photographs with someone he believed to be a woman. However, when Hile learned that his online paramour was in fact a man residing in South Africa and that his romance was nothing more than a “cat fishing” scheme, Hile became enraged and initiated what he termed “an investigation” to find the woman in the photographs used in the scheme.
Trial evidence revealed that as part of his investigation, Hile conducted an extensive search of the Internet, utilizing chat rooms and online gaming blogs to identify and locate the woman in the photographs, a resident of San Diego County, who years earlier had her online Photobucket account comprised, resulting in her photographs being disseminated over the Internet.
The evidence presented at trial showed that after a diligent search, Hile not only identified the woman in the photograph but obtained personal information for her as well as her boyfriend, the victim’s family members and friends. Hile was arrested in San Diego within miles of the victim’s home. At the time of his arrest, Hile was in possession of the victim’s address, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, telephone contacts, contact information for the victim’s favorite restaurant, and the names and addresses for educational institutions that the victim had previously attended. Forensic evidence presented at trial showed that Hile retrieved the victim’s confidential information by hacking into the victim’s e-mail account. Hile was also found in possession of duct tape, zip ties, and a to-do list that included additional supplies he needed to obtain to complete his plan to kill the female victim and her boyfriend, including a trench coat, knife, and chloroform.
“This prosecution demonstrates the potential for stalkers to use information from the Internet to prey on their victims and reaffirms the department’s commitment to ensure the safety of all of the people in our community,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. Duffy also praised the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Computer and Technology Crime Hi-Tech Response Team. The Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team (CATCH) is a multi-agency task force formed in June 2000 to apprehend and prosecute all criminals who use technology to prey on the citizens of San Diego and Imperial and Riverside Counties.
Hile is next scheduled to appear in court at his sentencing hearing on November 22 before United States District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino.