Barbara Mills never got justice for her daughter’s murder because investigators could not access the young woman’s iPhone … until now.
After the FBI was able to unlock the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help, Mills wants the same done with her daughter Brittney Mills’s iPhone 5s, which could have clues leading to her killer.
The 29-year-old Louisiana woman and mother of one was almost full term with her second baby when she was shot last year. Brittney survived an emergency C-section before she died. Her newborn son, named Brenton by his grandmother, died a few days later.
Nearly one year later, investigators have yet to name a single suspect.
“The daughter heard someone knock on the door and heard her mom speak to somebody, who she was not able to identify,” East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore explained. “After the shots rang out is when the daughter ran for safety.”
Moore said there was no sign of forced entry and “the critical thing is she opens the door,” which could indicate she knew her killer.
“No gun left, no gun found,” Moore added. “We really are desperate to try to get into the phone, just to see if there’s anything else there.”
Brittney kept a diary on her phone through an app, according to her family members, which could be very useful to investigators.
While investigators have been able to obtain Brittney’s call log and 15,000 pages worth of data from her iCloud, it proved useless because they were not able to read text messages and the device hadn’t been backed up for months, so the data was outdated.
Following reports that the FBI was able to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of an “outside party,” Moore got in touch with a federal agent on that case.
“Both of our understanding is that if they’re able to get into that phone, that they can probably get into Miss Mills’ phone, which hopefully will benefit us one way or the other,” he said.
As Moore awaits a final decision from the FBI, a law enforcement official said it’s too “premature to say” but that they’re “committed to helping” state and local partners gain lawful access to mobile devices.
Meanwhile, Barbara, who is now raising her deceased daughter’s child, isn’t only peeved with the FBI, but also with Apple CEO Tim Cook after hearing him talk about the rights of consumers on TV.
“You still trying to protect consumers, but what about the victims who used your product?” she said. “They were faithful, too. They paid their bills.”
(Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Mills)