Medford police officer testifies at Caruso trial
By Lisa Guerriero
Date: August 15, 2003
A Medford police officer who specializes in computer investigation delivered testimony Monday that could help put Steven Caruso behind bars for the murder of Sandra Berfield.
Lt. John J. McLean, who heads up Medford's Cybercrime Unit, was among the detectives called in to investigate the deadly pipe-bombing in Berfield's Everett apartment on Jan. 20, 2000.
Caruso, 48, had been convicted of tampering with Berfield's vehicle and was also saddled with a restraining order from the 32-year-old Bickfords waitress.
Within days of Berfield's death, police seized computer devices found in Caruso's bedroom on the second floor of his home at 29 Fells Ave., including a tower, monitors, scanner and camera.
McLean arrived at around 7:35 p.m. Jan. 21 and made a carbon copy of Caruso's hard drive, which stores information. He also safeguarded the original hard drive so it could not be altered later.
McLean told prosecuting attorney Thomas O'Reilly he executed a keyword search for numerous words, including "Sandra," "Sandy," "Berfield" and "Glendale," the latter being the street where Berfield lived at the time of her death.
The search produced "hits" within the hard drive, indicating the topics had appeared in Caruso's Internet, word or scanned-in data. Some of the information was later linked to ussearch.com, an identity-research site that was subpoenaed for evidence.
The information - including Berfield's Social Security number, date of birth, current and past addresses, her mail route and vehicle registrations - was e-mailed in 1999 to firstname.lastname@example.org, a now-defunct e-mail address registered to Caruso.
Another search generated hits for "nitro," "detonator" and "smoke." McLean examined the files in question and found them to be encyclopedia-type Internet information about past bombing incidents.
McLean also turned up Berfield's name in conjunction with astrology software offering horoscopes and compatibility advice. The program was set up to immediately generate information about Berfield, McLean said, and used the time and location of her birth to generate results.
Caruso's family tree-making software was checked and revealed Berfield's complete family structure. When he clicked a button to activate the program, McLean said, "the Berfield data came right up."
Names and addresses of Berfield family members were stored in the computer, McLean said. The program generated a calendar, which was submitted as evidence, which displayed the birthdays of numerous family members.
The Berfield family, which includes 13 siblings, were stoic during the testimony, but seeing their personal information displayed on a television screen brought them to tears.
The astrology and personal information for Sandra Berfield were accessed as late as Jan. 17, 2000, McLean said, just days before the deadly package arrived at Berfield's home.
Public defender Robert M. Delahunt Jr. challenged the findings, pressing McLean to say he had not discovered any leads to bomb-making or bomb component information which would act as evidence in the case.
Delahunt asked McLean if there was any evidence of programs to "booby-trap" the hard drive, a technique often used by computer-savvy criminals.
"I didn't find any encryption-enabling or erasial-type programs," McLean said.
McLean described his knowledge of computer investigation and forensics as "extensive." After receiving his bachelor's and masters degrees in criminal justice from Northeastern University, McLean served with the Secret Service for a year and a half. He later conducted computer crime investigations for the U.S. Attorney's office and the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
He has worked for the Medford police in a variety of capacities and masterminded the development of www.medfordpolice.com.
McLean has given training in the field to members of the Greater Boston Police Association, as well as at national seminars, and penned a chapter in the Handbook on Computer Crime Investigation.
McLean said he has testified in state and federal courts on cybercrime matters, and he told the court he has participated in "dozens upon dozens" of computer forensic cases.
The defense was slated to resume cross-examination Tuesday, and closing statements were expected Wednesday.
Original article at: http://www.townonline.com
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