Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misidentified the person who made an insurance claim on the car. That person was Ferguson’s girlfriend.
ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Police investigators used geo-data they obtained from Google to find a hit-and-run driver they say killed a Round Rock man in April. They say that same driver was arrested two days after the deadly crash for drunk driving.
Investigators believe Cory Ferguson, 31, killed Cleveland Elliott in the early morning hours of April 17. Elliott was crossing Gattis School Road at Surrey Drive around 1:40 a.m. when he was hit.
The driver took off as Elliott lay in the roadway with life-threatening injuries. It would be 45 more minutes before a passing motorist stopped and called 911, according to Elliott’s father. Elliott was transported to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center where he died at 3:56 a.m.
Elliott’s father said his son texted him happy birthday shortly before the hit-and-run happened.
“Birthdays — I’ll never have a happy one,” Cleveland Elliott Sr. said. “Because I know my baby’s gone. My baby boy’s gone from me.”
How investigators cracked the case
Video shows Elliott crossing Gattis School Road at the crosswalk when a four-door sedan hit him. The car’s brake lights lit up. Police say that indicated the driver knew they hit something but drove away.
In May, investigators received a search warrant for Google which requested geo-data on all mobile devices near the scene at the time of the crash. That pinged just two devices — both belonged to Ferguson and both were traveling westbound, the same direction as the car that hit Elliott.
A DWI arrest two days after the crash that killed Elliott
As police started to piece things together, they realized their suspect, Ferguson, was actually arrested for DWI on April 19, just two days after the crash that killed Elliott.
Police believe he was driving the same car that hit Elliott. It was a grey 2019 Nissan Sentra rental car with visible damage to the passenger side and blue tape holding up the windshield.
On April 20, Ferguson’s girlfriend, Delgado Vela, filed an insurance claim. In a phone call with Alinsco Insurance, she said someone hit her parked car in the parking lot of La Michoacana Meat Market on Mays Street and that pushed her into a pole. Police believed that was a lie.
My son laid out here for about 45 minutes when they found him, and my heart is broken. You’ve taken a part of me that can never be replaced.Cleveland Elliott Sr., victim’s father
They arrested Vela on Sept. 19 and charged her with tampering with evidence. When police questioned her, she said she was at home the night of April 17 but that her boyfriend had her rental car. Police confirmed Vela’s cell phone was at her home all night.
Vela said when she woke up the next morning, she noticed the damage to the car. She said Ferguson told her he hit something but didn’t know what. She said she and Ferguson drove around downtown Round Rock and Gattis School Road trying to determine what Ferguson hit. Police also confirmed this with Google.
Police arrested Ferguson on Sept. 19. He’s charged with accident involving personal injury and possession of a controlled substance; less than one gram.