Man charged with wife's murder after her FitBit contradicts his timeline of events
A man in Connecticut has been charged with murdering his wife after police allege that his story that she was killed by a burglar was untrue – as based on evidence from her FitBit.
Richard Dabate, a 40-year-old computer technician, told police that he had dropped their two sons, aged nine and six, off at the school bus stop then returned to his home in Ellington, after receiving an alert that an alarm was going off.
He said that, arriving back around 9am, he was confronted by a stocky 6 ft 2in masked man “with a Vin Diesel voice” rifling through their belongings.
Dabate said he wrestled with the man, then heard his wife, Connie, return home from her spinning class – and yelled at her to run.
Dabate said the man incapacitated him by using pressure points on his wrist and then ran down the stairs after his wife, who was shot dead by the burglar.
But, piecing together the evidence from the morning of December 23, 2015, police began to suspect that his version of events could not be true.
Key to the evidence was Mrs Dabate’s FitBit.
At 9.23am the activity tracker, idle for nine minutes while she drove home from her gym, became active again at the same time alarm records show the garage door opening at their home. State police believe that is when she arrived home.
Mrs Dabate, a pharmaceutical sales representative for Reckitt Benckiser, then posted two videos on Facebook using her iPhone and then posted a message to a friend through Facebook. The IP address is assigned to the couple's house.
And at 10.05am – an hour after Dabate said he had disturbed the burglar - her Fitbit registered its last movement.
The panic alarm was hit at 10.11am – the only time alarms sounded at the home. Dabate had said that he returned home earlier that morning after alarms sounded.
Craig Stedman, the Connecticut district attorney, said that using a FitBit to investigate crime was unusual – but that the device could provide solid evidence.
“To say it is rare to use FitBit records would be safe,” he said on Monday, at a press conference to announce the charges.
“It is an electronic footprint that tracks your movements. It is a great tool for investigators to use.
“We can also get the information much faster than some other types of evidence such as DNA tests.”
Police later found that Dabate had been having an affair, and his mistress was seven months pregnant.
They also found the couple, who had married in 2003, rowed frequently about money, with Mrs Dabate writing on her iPhone notes shortly before her death: "Why I want a divorce" and listing reasons why she wanted to end her marriage.
The list included claims that her husband took money "from a lot of accounts that don't belong to him," was an unfit parent, was uncaring towards her, doesn't come home on time and "acts like a kid constantly," according to the warrant.
Asked by police about the state of his marriage, Dabate admitted that another woman was pregnant, but said there was "a lot of cheating going on in the beginning on both sides." He acknowledged that the pregnancy was "unexpected."
"This situation popped up like a frickin' soap opera," he said.
Five days after his wife’s death, Dabate tried to cash in on her $475,000 life insurance policy. He also, in January 2016, withdrew $93,000 from her investment account.
Dabate denies killing his wife and is currently free on a $1 million bail. His next court date is scheduled for April 28.