Tracking a pedophile: How online clues can reveal child porn

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Diocese officials confirm local and federal agents are now combing through confiscated computers from St. Ann's Catholic Church after tracing two downloads of child pornography to the IP address registered to the parish office where the priest also lives. Their wireless network was unsecure.

"We're leaving a signature of our activity online every place we go," said retired FBI agent Jeff Lanza. "Our IP address is our identifier."

They tracked the IP address behind the downloads from a file-sharing site. Lanza isn't surprised law enforcement was on a file-sharing site looking in the first place.

"These file-sharing networks are basically a major resource and a major tool for pedophiles who download child pornography," Lanza said. "So the FBI and other agencies have been looking at those for a long time to try and stop kids from being abused online."

Phones also leave behind a trail with pictures and video. Metadata is attached to those images including the time, date, and thanks to the GPS devices on most phones, the location of where the picture was taken.

It is possible the porn was downloaded outside of the church because the wireless network was unsecure.

"That extends 500 to 1,000 feet outside the walls of your home," Lanza said.

If the downloads did happen outside the walls of the church, it would likely extend and complicate the investigation.

Church officials say no one has been charged and no one is in custody.

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