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Digital Forensics Dominates Fourth Annual Center for Homeland Security Conference

by Janelle Hill M’23 Dec 12, 2023
Homeland Security Conference 2023

Scott McCulloch likes to recount an early success story from the Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County, which is housed in Dooling Hall. 

As McCulloch M’18 explained, a man upset about a breakup ended up shooting at his ex-girlfriend through her window, injuring her. Police arrested the man and sent his iPhone to the Petzold lab, where McCulloch and his team were able to unlock the phone and examine its contents. 

“The suspect had turned the location services off,” said McCulloch, interim lab manager and cyber crime investigator. “However, iPhones are like celebrities; they like to be seen. His iPhone synced to the victim’s Wi-Fi router as he approached the home. ... Knowing the case against him was strong, the suspect pleaded guilty.”

McCulloch was just one of the regional leaders to share his insights and expertise during the Center for Homeland Security’s fourth annual conference—Applying Digital Forensics in Homeland Security. 

He shared the stage with three fellow DeSales alumni and former Petzold lab interns: Morghan Shoemaker ’20, digital forensic lab analyst; Jonathan Langton ’13, M’14, vice president, Forensic Technology and Consulting Division of TransPerfect Legal Solutions; and Devon Campbell ’13, M’14, senior manager, Forensic Technology and Consulting Division of TransPerfect Legal Solutions. 

Shoemaker, a forensic psychology graduate, is currently earning a digital forensics certificate from DeSales and has been working full-time for the Petzold lab for two years. Her focus is on mobile forensics. 

“The experience from starting as an intern and a student to growing into this job has really made me the person I am today and has taught me so much about the world of criminal justice.” 

 Morghan Shoemaker ’20, digital forensic lab analyst

Langton and Campbell were the first and second interns, respectively, at the Petzold lab. Today, they both work for TransPerfect Legal Solutions on forensic investigations involving data exfiltration, intellectual property theft, and internal investigations. 

“We’re employing the tools and techniques learned here at DeSales on a more global scale,” Langton said. 

In 2011, the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation joined forces with Lehigh County and DeSales University to establish the Petzold lab—the first of its kind in the commonwealth. Today, the lab services all 15 Lehigh County police departments, as well as 22 police departments in neighboring Northampton County. 

In addition to the Petzold lab, other prominent panels at the conference discussed the latest trends and challenges in digital forensics in Lehigh County and beyond. Speakers included: Julia Kocis M’18, director of the Lehigh County Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center; Vince Browning, FBI special agent; Brian Ressler of Homeland Security Investigations; Chief Michelle Kott ’04 of the Bethlehem Police Department; and Chief Michael J. Marks ’00 of the Whitehall Township Police Department.