WOW Playing Fugitive Busted with Help of Blizzard

An Indiana man wanted on drug charges was tracked down in Canada, thanks to his World of Warcraft addiction.

Following a 2007 warrant issued for his arrest, Alfred Hightower of Howard County, Indiana had fled to Canada reports Hightower was wanted on charges of dealing marijuana and both schedule III and IV controlled substances.

Detective Matt Roberson began tracking the wanted man using information obtained from a childhood friend of Hightower’s. Roberson eventually learned of Hightower’s dependence on WOW and subpoenaed Activision Blizzard for more information on the fugitive.

The publisher’s cooperation seemed to surprise Roberson:

“They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,” said Roberson. “It had been three or four months since I had sent the subpoena. I just put it in the back of my mind and went on to do other things. Then I finally got a response from them. They sent me a package of information. They were very cooperative. It was nice that they were that willing to provide information.”

After zeroing in on Hightower’s location using a combination of WOW billing address, IP address and Google Earth, Canadian authorities were alerted and Hightower was nabbed in Ottawa, Canada and deported to Minnesota, where U.S. Marshals held him for Howard County authorities.

The article also features a link to a WOW Armory listing for Hightower’s character, a Level 80 Tauren Shaman.

Thanks Dan!

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  1. 0
    sharpshooterbabe says:

    Ahhhhh They Walk Among Us……LMAO!



    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  2. 0
    Valdearg says:

    Oh, no. I didn’t want to preach about the morality of the law. Hell, if I could do it without losing my job, I’d be smoking pot right along side you. What I was trying to say is that IF you are caught breaking the law, you have to be ready to face the consequences, even if the law sucks.

    Remember, though, this guy wasn’t just some recreational drug user, he was on the US Marshall’s watch list because he ran from the country after being arrested for having mass quantities and selling them.

    Also, my comments about murder and robbery weren’t intended to compare them to smoking pot. I was trying to say that If you make it too hard to find people after they’ve run from the law, what’s stopping more violent criminals, like muderers, from just skipping town after they get caught? I’m glad this guy was caught, regardless of what crime he committed, because it shows me that the Marshalls are thinking outside the box when it comes to tracking some people down. It gives me a bit of confidence that if they were tracking a true threat to society, they’d be able to suceed in a timely manner.

    That being said, I think the main point of my comment before was that if you are going to make the choice to willingly violate a law, no matter how stupid the law is, you have to be ready to face the consequences. I willingly choose to speed when I drive to work, and, if I’m caught, I am ready to face the consequences and resulting fine.

  3. 0
    Stinking Kevin says:

    Alcohol and cigarettes are two of my favorite recreational drugs, but since you are into pot, consider this: There are millions of people in America who are going to spark up today. They don’t obey the law, and the only consequence they face is smoking more pot again tomorrow.


    Of all the pot smokers you know, how many have ever been arrested for it? A small percentage, I’d wager, if you know any at all. It’s a completely personal act that doesn’t have to affect anyone but the smoker himself. I emphatically reject your suggestion that robbery and murder should be considered in the same category as a victimless "crime" such as recreational drug use.


    But maybe I missed the real point of your post, because the way I read it, it kind of seemed like all you wanted to do was preach to me that I should base my morality on the letter of the law, and that sort of holier-than-thou shit has always turned me right off.



  4. 0
    Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Begs the question, does Dennis still show up around here? I missed a few things while I was gone. Didn’t even know we had a new editor here until… uh… I forget who told me. It was in the shoutbox, so I can’t go back and look for it.


    "A Chrono Trigger is anything that unleashes its will or desire to change history!" -Gaspar

  5. 0
    Ryno says:

    Also don’t forget this was a holiday weekend.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  6. 0
    Valdearg says:

    Wow.. Have I really moved on that quickly? Hah. Did Dennis do it every weekend? Or was it kind of hit or miss with him?

    For as long as I can remember, I never felt the urge to check GP on my off days, because I figured there was never going to be any new stories.

    Either way, you guys deserve time off as much as any other person.

  7. 0
    Alyric says:

    Not to mention, as Frank Herbert said in Children of Dune, "If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments."

    The word addiction subtly shifts the blame to World of Warcraft, rather than correctly identifying the obsessed fan as the one with a problem.

  8. 0
    Stinking Kevin says:

    I noticed that too. I thought maybe someone was trying to make a pun of some sort, as the guy was wanted for drug-related charges. In any case, yes, I think that is exactly what we jump on the mainstream press for doing.

  9. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Hrm.  I just noticed something interesting about GP’s coverage.

    The rather charged word ‘addiction’ was inserted by GP, not the original piece.  So the linked article was more neutral then GP in this case since it only described him as a ‘fan’ and GP jumped to the ‘addiction’ conclusion.  Is this not the type of thing we normally jump on the press for doing?

  10. 0
    Positive_Gamer says:

    That’s what happens when you throw your information out there, the companies who get it do what they want with it, like turning over to the cops so they can grab you in Canada.  If you want your privacy, don’t put your info out there.

  11. 0
    Valdearg says:

    Well, as long as you aren’t selling those drugs, you won’t make it onto the US Marshall’s watch list.

    Frankly, the law is the law, and while some laws aren’t exactly fair in regards to the use of some drugs, including Marijuana, you still need to obey them, or face the consequences.

    The guy got what he deserved for breaking the law and than running from it. As far as privacy goes, I’d prefer the Government have the power to track down people running from the law. If it was too easy to run, what’s stopping more violent criminals from skipping town after every murder or robbery they commit?

  12. 0
    Kharne says:

    Oh, I can only imagine what people were thinking when they got his address from Blizzard.

    "Looks like it’s time for us to start-" (insert glasses being slapped on here) "-a raid."


  13. 0
    Valdearg says:

    GP hasn’t posted stories on the weekend for as long as I can remember..

    I figure they take the weekends off, you know, like many other folks in America? No need to get your panties in a bunch over the fact that GP needs a break, as well.

  14. 0
    Baineblade says:

    Ok…I know I’m prolly gonna get flamed here.  Buuut…this story is more than a couple of days old…a lot of news came out over the weekend, and yet no posts until monday.  It’s kinda like a lambast, as well.  I too noticed the change in the article.  This never would happen in the past.  I’m about ready to delete this site from my bookmarks.


    Bang, You’re dead.

  15. 0
    Adamas Draconis says:

    "But this is the Internet, and Blizzard is in California. Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world."

    Does that explain the first two questions at least Neeneko?

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  16. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I guess the questions I would have:

    a) Did the police go through proper channels or was this an informal request? (since there was a subpoena, I assume the former).

    b) In what way were they ‘not required to help’?  Generally one must answer a subpoena, so in what way was it ‘optional’?

    c) How does this interact with Blizzard’s privacy and corperate policies?  What is the treshhold for giving out private information?  If they were ‘not required’ then they were not compelled to answer.  How offical/complelling must a request be for them to ‘help’?  One would assume they do not give out personal data to anyone phoning up and asking.

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