The Ghana Police Service resorted to the services of a British cybersecurity expert in the UK to track the exact location of the suspects who kidnapped the two Canadian women in Kumasi back in June, DailyMailGH.com can reveal.
Gordon McKay used a high-tech mobile phone from his Winchester, Hampshire home in southern England to detect the location where the two University of New Brunswick students, Lauren Tilley and Bailey Chitty had been kidnapped in Ghana’s Ashanti region.
Chitty and Tilley were forced into a vehicle at about 8:20 pm at Ahodwo, Kumasi Royal Gulf Club on June 4, 2019.
“Investigation started immediately upon receipt of a complaint and the security agencies are working closely together to get them rescued and the perpetrators arrested,” a police statement said when the news of the abduction broke.
As pressure mounted on the Ghana Police Service to rescue the women, the security agency contacted McKay’s surveillance company – Butler Horn – with three mobile phone numbers to help track the girls.
High profile sources reveal to DailyMailGH.com that McKay was not told the case was about abduction but was only required to help track the location of those three numbers thousands of kilometers away from his England base.
McKay, who has worked on several high-profile cases, was able to give the Ghana police the vital information they actually needed through a mobile technology called azimuth leading to the release of the two Canadians.
The Azimuth helps to narrow down to a small area, just where the person was when they were last on the phone. Within 24 hours of being contacted, McKay was able to identify from England where the kidnappers were based thanks to the three numbers and a map of local cell phone masts.
“If you know what cell the phone connected with, you know what direction the phone is to the cell tower,” McKay said.
“Immediately, you are three times more accurate if you know the direction. You can estimate how far the phone is from the tower.”
Armed with this information, the investigators were able to estimate where the gang and the two students were. Each phone call made betrays where the user is at that moment.
When you turn your phone on, it looks for the strongest signal, usually the nearest cell tower. The phone also sends crucial information to the tower including the “International Mobile Subscriber Identity” or IMSI.
This 15-digit number uniquely identifies the user.
Through such things as the phone’s reception level, an investigator will then also be able to determine how far or close to the tower the user was, as well as in which direction.
Although McKay knew the case related to an abduction, his company was only provided with the three phone numbers and little else.
But it was through their ability to trace where they were used, from thousands of kilometres away, just using the estimated co-ordinates of the phones that led to the kidnap gang’s capture.
“We gave that information to our intermediary, who gave it to police and the women were found the day after,” McKay said.
Tilley and Chitty were working with Youth Challenge International, an international development organization headquartered in Toronto. Their kidnappers contacted their parents and demanded an $800,000 ransom.
Based on the vital information provided by McKay, the Ghanaian police were able to rescue the girls a week later in captivity and five Ghanaians and three Nigerians were arrested in a dawn raid.
The case is ongoing and will be recalled on November 21, 2019.
The release of the girls brought huge relief to Canada and her parents.
Christina Chitty, mother of Bailey, broke her silence over the ordeal for the first time after the rescue.
“My chosen family whom I have the honour of working with everyday have been my quiet rock (along with many others). Today we celebrate Love wins💙,” the health worker at the Cumberland Health Authority declared on Facebook.
The small town of Amherst in Canada where Chitty hails from is in a state of frenzy over the rescue of the two young Maritime women from kidnappers in Ghana.
A sign on the main street of Amherst, N.S., declares, “Love wins,” and placards have appeared in windows saying “Love won,” according to The Star.
Aaron Stubbert, the principal of Amherst Regional High School, said in an interview Thursday the message spread as the town celebrated the rescue of 20-year-old Bailey Chitty of Amherst, as well as 19-year-old Lauren Tilley of New Brunswick.
“We’re happy and overjoyed and excited and glad it turned out the way it did,” Stubbert said.
Youth Challenge International, the non-profit group the women were volunteering with, has said Tilley and Chitty are receiving emotional and psychological support from professionals as they travel home.
Joe van Vulpen, deputy warden of Cumberland County, says the two-word offer of support went up at the public health centre on Amherst’s main street where Bailey’s mother Christina Chitty works.
He says it’s a phrase that sums up how “love and hope and prayers came to fruition.”
The girls are currently receiving support as they prepare to go home.
By K.N.S Mensah, Daily Mail GH