Sixteen-year-old Maxwell Marion Morton was charged with murder over the weekend in Jeannette, Pennsylvania after sending an incriminating photo through the disappearing message service Snapchat. Prosecutors say Morton fatally shot classmate Ryan Mangan and took a selfie with the body, which he sent to a friend using Snapchat, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Snapchat messages self-delete from the recipient’s phone after several seconds, which perhaps led Morton to believe it could not incriminate him. Ephemeral, encrypted messaging apps were recently the subject of a ban proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron because he believes they could be used by terrorists and leave no trace. Murder by Snapchat was even the subject of a short fictional film last year. But the recipient of Morton’s message saved the photo with a screenshot before it disappeared, and his mother reportedly called 911.
“I’ve never seen it before,” District Attorney John Peck told reporters, “but it was a key piece of evidence that led investigators to the defendant.”
Morton faces charges of first-degree murder, homicide, and possession of a firearm, and will be tried as an adult.