Family says cell phone records might have helped find their son

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by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 23 at 6:48 PM

Just days after their son committed suicide, a Bellingham family says cell phone records might have helped them get to him sooner.
     
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kahn was missing for several days before his body was found on Saturday.

Pam and Joe Kahn said their son had struggled with addiction and depression.  

Early Thursday, he posted a disturbing message on facebook “his final post on facebook said goodnight world see you on the dream side,” Joe Kahn said.

His parents and other family members searched for him all over Bellingham.

“I'd gone to the emergency rooms and said have you seen him here and went to the bus station, because he liked to hang out at the bus station,” Kahn said.

They turned to their cell phone carrier, T-Mobile, for help.

Dylan was a minor and his cell phone account was under his dad's name, but his father was told they needed law enforcement to intervene.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Investigators took the case to the Prosecutor’s office but told him initially that his case didn’t qualify.

“They didn't have enough evidence to support exigent circumstance,” Kahn explained.

Hours later they found the teen’s body in a field near their home.

“The reality is the timing of the information would not have saved his life, but he would not have had to lie in a ditch for an additional 20 hours,” Kahn explained.

“We would have found him much earlier.”

Kahn says he doesn't blame the cell phone company or law enforcement, he believes the laws should be changed to give parents access to their children’s phone information.  

“It isn't just about just my son, but anybody else's kid who might be abducted or whatever.”

The family says they now take some comfort in knowing where their son is.

They’re planning a memorial service but say a lasting tribute might be helping other families get access to this information, if something happens to their children.

T-Mobile issued this statement to King 5 News:

“T-Mobile has a responsibility to uphold Federal privacy laws and is very careful with how we manage and disclose the private information of any of our customers. Call details (incoming and outgoing) can be viewed online by any primary account holder, at any time. If the request is from anyone other than a primary account holder or if the request is for things other than what is found on a typical bill, T-Mobile and other wireless carriers are regulated by the Federal Government in terms of the privacy of the information. T-Mobile may release customer information only when legally permitted to do so, whether by declaration from law enforcement of an exigent circumstance or valid legal demand."

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department said it was working with a County Prosecutor to try and get the family the information, but the process can sometimes take a while to make sure they meet the legal requirements for obtaining this sort of information.

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