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N.Y. police use GPS data to charge man in slaying

The Associated Press

OTSELIC, N.Y. — Police used data from a global positioning system installed by a suspicious wife to charge a man with murdering the couple's 12-year-old baby sitter.

George Ford Jr., 42, told police he was taking Shyanne Somers home the night of July 8 but took a detour to show her some horses, then accidentally ran her over as he turned his truck around on a rural road in central New York.

Chenango County Sheriff Thomas Loughren said Thursday that Ford's routes of travel, times and speed were all recorded on a global positioning system that his wife had installed a few days earlier because she suspected he was having an affair.

Investigators determined that Ford didn't take the girl to see horses, but instead drove around other roads and spent more than three hours with her behind an abandoned home.

He was charged Thursday with second-degree murder. He was originally charged with a felony count of reckless endangerment.

Ford's lawyer, Randel Scharf, disputed the importance of the GPS data and said the case against his client was weak.

"Mr. Ford didn't kill the little girl intentionally," Scharf said. The GPS shows the location of Ford's truck but "doesn't show the time she was run over."

Scharf said police failed to do an aggressive investigation early on so "they jimmy the GPS data and try to fashion an intentional murder out of it, which is horrendous. It's really a stretch."

Police said Ford told them he didn't take Shyanne to a hospital for nearly six hours because he was in shock, then he got lost. The GPS showed Ford drove around with the girl's body for a while, passing the hospital and traveling around the city for a few minutes before taking her there.

"This evidence is really unusual in a homicide case," Loughren said. "But in this particular case, it's crucial. It's like a gift from God for Shyanne, that's how we're looking at it."

Deputies say Ford had a cell phone with him but didn't attempt to use it to call for help.

Ford, who has a seasonal home in South Otselic, was held without bail and is to be arraigned Monday in Chenango County Court.

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