Cell Phone Pings Help Police Find Smith's Body

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Authorities found Kelsey Smith's body thanks to a common technology. 13's Lindsay Shively continues our team coverage with at look at how Kelsey's cell phone brought police to her location.

Police were able to narrow their search area thanks to signals from Smith's cell phone called pings.

Cell phone pings led police to Kelsey Smith's body in southern Kansas City, Missouri. "So if your cell phone is on and someone is trying to get a hold of you, then your phone will actually ping to the closest tower." The ping limits the location to the cell tower's reach, which can be several miles.

Calls from Smith's family and friends made following pings easier. "Every couple of minutes. If someone is trying to get a hold of you, then it will register every couple of minutes."

"Cell phones are a great tool. Everyone ought to have one if they are traveling and out and about." Topeka police say depending on the case, they use this technology too. But they say it isn't always consistent.

They say, during a dangerous situation, dialing 911 is better than relying on pings."I would hate for people to think having a cell phone will save the day. The big important thing is to be alert to your surroundings and take precautions when you're out."

Because pings are a part of a customer's private phone records, law enforcement agencies do have to get permission from a judge before getting those records.