He catches thieves, teachers and strippers with cellphones and computers. Meet Butler County’s digital detective.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Editor’s Note: This story first published on June 7, 2019. Det. Walt Schneider was involved in investigating a case in which a Madison Twp. man has been charged with 101 counts related to child pornography in what the Butler County sheriff has said is the worst such case he remembers his department investigating. Here is Det. Schneider’s story.

A Miami University Police Department detective known in the region for his expertise in retrieving data and evidence from cellphones and computers was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Walt Schneider was recognized this week by the Homeland Security Investigations office in Cincinnati for his forensic expertise in “several of HSI’s core programmatic areas, including child exploitation investigations as well as narcotics trafficking investigations.”

Schneider, who trained at the National Computer Forensics Institute, is able to retrieve data and evidence from computers and cellphones to support the arrest and convictions of offenders in the areas HSI investigates. He also assists law enforcement throughout the region.

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“We are very fortunate to have great partners like yourself and the University Police Department who share expertise and best practices with HSI to enhance our investigative efforts,” said Steve K. Francis, Special Agent in Charge at HSI.

The MUPD’s Digital Forensic Investigative Unit, which Schneider leads, helped Miami to a No. 5 ranking in the U.S. by the National Campus Safety Summit in 2015 for making a positive difference in student safety.

“Support from the university for Det. Schneider’s forensic training enables us to share resources with Homeland Security and with other law enforcement agencies,” said MUPD Chief John McCandless. “Public safety is our shared primary commitment and being part of the law enforcement community means collaborating and partnering to meet that commitment.”

Schneider has always been interested in computers and did a stint before becoming a police officer as an internet service installer, he said in a previous interview with this news outlet. Through that training and experience in hundreds of cases, Schneider has become an “ethical hacker,” helping law enforcement agencies throughout the region and country.

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Schneider has gathered evidence for a variety of cases from homicides to food stamp fraud to the sale of fake Nike shoes. In the past three years, he gathered information that led to charges being filed against a New Miami High School teacher.

In 2011, he examined a GPS to gather evidence in the case of an exotic dancer who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for hitting a customer and dragging him to his death in Monroe. He also investigated a crime that hit close to home, when students were charged for breaching Miami University’s computer system and changing grades.

In 2018, Schneider testified in the death penalty trial of Michael Grevious, a Hamilton man convicted of aggravated murder for ordering a retaliation shooting at Central Avenue and Knightsbridge on Aug. 3, 2016, that killed two people.

Schneider grew up in the Preble County Village of West Elkton, but now lives in Butler County.

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