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Dashcam video leads to arrest in killing of Uber driver

By Liam Reilly, CNN

An Uber driver found dead near Pittsburgh was robbed and killed by her passenger, with key moments of the incident recorded on the car’s dash camera and leading to an arrest, according to a criminal complaint.

Police were called to a wooded area last Saturday, where they recovered the body of Christina Spicuzza, 38, with a single gunshot wound to the head, authorities said in the complaint. Spicuzza had been reported missing by her family a day earlier, when she failed to return, police said in a news release.

An Amazon driver spotted Spicuzza’s body and called authorities, Allegheny County Police Assistant Superintendent Victor Joseph said at a news conference Saturday announcing the arrest. “It was approximately 40 feet I believe off the roadway. It was actually on the other side of a creek at a little plateau area in a wooded area. It was within a few hundred yards of a residential neighborhood.”

The driver’s cellphone and dash camera were missing from the car, detectives with the Allegheny County police department said in the criminal complaint.

A passerby found Spicuzza’s discarded cellphone nearby and turned it over to police, who used data it contained to trace her movements the night she disappeared, and reviewed recent calls, the complaint stated. Detectives also conferred with Uber about their records from that night, the complaint showed.

Based on the timing of the incident, investigators zeroed in on one rider, Calvin Crew, 22, and probed his cellphone records, comparing the times and locations of his Uber ride, along with surveillance video recorded along the route, and phone conversations with his girlfriend before and after the ride, according to the complaint.

Police later recovered the car’s dash camera, found close to where Crew’s ride had ended, the complaint showed. The dashcam, Joseph said, contained “critical evidence” and was recovered “in the area where the trip was ending.”

Video recorded by the camera showed Crew holding a gun to Spicuzza’s head, and later showed him grabbing the camera as the recording ended, the complaint stated.

Spicuzza reportedly told Crew, “Come on, I have a family.” Crew responded, “I got a family too, now drive.” Spicuzza reportedly went on to say, “I’m begging you; I have four kids.” The video ends shortly after, as Crews grabbed the camera, police said in the complaint.

“We believe this was a robbery,” said Allegheny County Police Superintendent Christopher Kearns, at the news conference, adding the investigation is ongoing, as authorities seek to determine a motive. Kearns said Spicuzza and Crew did not know each other.

Authorities acknowledged the use of cellphone data aided in their investigation. “As society changes with more technology being part of people’s lives, it changes investigations also,” Kearns explained. “Just as everyone has a cellphone with them all the time, that generally provides evidence that helps us with the investigation.”

Crew is facing charges of criminal homicide, robbery, firearms violations and tampering with evidence, Kearns said. Crew had previously been detained on an outstanding warrant on a gun charge and had been released after making bond, Kearns noted.

Crew has not yet been assigned a public defender, according to the district attorney’s office. He is currently being held without bond at the Allegheny County Jail, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 25, according to court documents.

Joseph described Spicuzza’s death as “a senseless killing that left four children without a mother.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Uber, Navideh Forghani, told CNN Monday the company is devoted to driver safety.

“No family should have to suffer such an unimaginable loss and our thoughts are with Christi’s loved ones during this difficult time,” Forghani said. “We’ve been in touch with law enforcement to support the investigation and are grateful for everything they’ve done.”

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CNN’s Amanda Musa contributed to this report.

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