Police credit Google in 'Most Wanted' arrest

July 9, 2012

MICHELLE JANAYE NEALY, Associated Press

Even Chicago police rely on the world's most popular Internet search engine when tracking down criminals.

Chicago police said Sunday that intuition and Google were key factors in last month's arrest of a man suspected in a 2010 gang-related shooting in New York. But it looks like serendipity played a role, too.

Ronnell Jones was arrested June 10 during an unrelated traffic stop in Chicago. He was in the backseat of a car drinking beer when police arrested him on alcohol and weapons charges.

Initially, Jones did not give his true identity to Chicago police after his arrest, police said. But the information Jones provided during his booking procedure — his real name and date of birthday — that investigators used to do a Google search. They said they found a photo and an episode of America's Most Wanted that featured him as a fugitive who evaded authorities by disguising himself as a woman.

Police say Jones was wearing men's clothing during his arrest.

Chicago police notified detectives in Yonkers, N.Y., and Jones' identity was verified after Yonkers detectives sent his fingerprints to Chicago police.

Gang Enforcement Commander Kevin Ryan praised the officers involved in the arrest during Sunday's press conference in Chicago.

"From their tenacity and their follow-through, they made sure that a very violent person was off the street," Ryan said.

Investigators had searched for Jones in a few places — Peekskill, N.Y., Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and South Carolina — for the past two years. Police said they don't know why Jones was in Chicago or how long he had been in the city.

Jones remains in custody at Cook County jail, where he will celebrate his 24th birthday Monday. Attempts to reach Jones at the prison were unsuccessful. It wasn't immediately clear if he has an attorney.

Jones awaits extradition to New York, but police said he must first stand trial in Illinois.

As for the role Google played in Jones' arrest, Ryan said, "We use it just like everyone else."