Megan Boken’s family wants cell phone “kill switches”

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It is a crime St. Louis will never get over:  the Central West End murder of Megan Boken, 23,  a former Saint Louis University volleyball standout.

It happened August 18, 2012.  Her killer was after her iPhone, police said.

Now, Megan’s family has joined a nationwide push to stop the epidemic of smartphone crimes.

More: Online petition asks for kill switch on cell phones to save lives

Fox 2’s Andy Banker met with Megan’s parents, in her home town, Wheaton, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. They were caught up in the state high school volleyball playoffs.

Megan’s little sister, Mary, 17, is a rising star.  She is as much a reason for her parents’ efforts, as Megan, who was on the phone with her mom, when she was attacked, then killed.

Nearly 15 months later, there is still ‘game night’ for the Bokens.

Thank God for game night.

Mary, bears a strong resemblance to Megan and also wears Megan’s number:  17. She may as well have it tattooed on her back, for it seems stamped on her soul.

Megan was a key part of the ’04 and ’06 St. Francis High School state championship teams;  a tenacious player and leader.

Yet, the “off-court” stuff separated Megan most. A team photo of her mugging for the camera next to the ’06 trophy, offers a hint, “Always that little frisky smile; just that sparkle in her eye,” long-time coach, Peg Kopec, said.  “She could excite the teammates, the coaching staff, the fans.  She had the fire.”

A fire that now quietly burns in the little sister Megan prayed she’d one day have.  Mary was part of the next St. Francis championship team as a sophomore last year.

“They hadn’t won the state championship since Megan’s year.  It really was, so, so much.  You could feel it.  You could really feel it,” said the girls’ mother, Lisa Boken.

You could feel Megan there.

A gunman, 18, wanted her new iPhone on that sunny Central West End afternoon, Lisa Boken said.

Megan, who had been living at home with her parents again, was visiting friends in St. Louis and headed to a SLU alumni volleyball game.

She was on the phone with her mom, walking to her car.

No one in St. Louis wanted to believe what happened.

“Me neither,” said Lisa Boken, pausing, then staring down. “It wasn’t even on our radar screen,” said Megan’s dad, Paul, referring to smartphone crime.

“She got to the car, she had another [parking] ticket,” Lisa remembered, smiling.  “Just so typical, just the typical conversation with Megan.  She got lots of tickets. It was her second one of the weekend,” she laughed.  “A sound came out like ‘uhh’, I couldn’t tell if it was an inhale or an exhale – but like a little sound – ‘uhh’. I thought maybe she saw – so many times you’d be talking to her – and oh, ‘hey how’s it going?’  She’d bump into somebody.  Sometimes she’d forget I was on the phone, she’d talk to the person, or ‘hey, I’ll call you back [mom].’ Then I didn’t hear anything.  I’m like ‘Megan, Megan?'”

She said she heard only muffled noise after that.

Megan’s older sister, Annie, also a SLU grad, was at the volleyball game, waiting for Megan, who never came.

“I remember the principal called me and said, ‘Peg, Megan Boken has been shot and is dead’.  I said, ‘that’s not true’,” coach Kopec recalled.

It still doesn’t seem like it.

Her championship teammates dedicated a memorial outside the gym where there is a tree planted in Megan’s honor.

“We just were all trying to figure out a way to [still] have her with us,” Kopec said, looking away.

Now, Megan’s family wants more.

In June, Annie, who lives in New York, and their dad, joined New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, at a news conference for the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative; calling for smartphone makers to implement “kill switch” technology, to permanently disable lost or stolen phones and make stealing them pointless.

“Thieves must know there’s no point in stealing a smart phone,” Schneiderman said, saying a stolen smartphone must in essence become nothing more than a paperweight.

The Bokens shared Megan’s story, determined that her death would not be the end of the matter.

“No one else should have to lose a sister or daughter or friend like my family lost Megan,” Annie said, tearfully.

“It’s 25%-30% of the crime in the city of New York, has a relationship to cell phone usage.  It’s the same in San Francisco. It’s the same in Los Angeles. I also heard early on that it’s the same problem in St. Louis,” Paul Boken told Fox 2.

There is a legitimate market for the re-selling of used smart phones, but there’s also an illegitimate, black market, for selling stolen ones.

“It’s a market that has to be shut down,” Paul Boken said.

In the wake of the Bokens’ efforts, the new Apple  IOS  7  operating system includes a “kill-switch” type feature. You can activate it online, shutting down an iPhone or  iPad if stolen.

A Fox 2 crew did it to an iPhone, then asked people to try to use it.

They got no further than a typed message saying the phone was stolen.  Only the owner’s passcode can reactivate the device.

“It’s a way to honor Megan. This could happen to anyone in America.  This isn’t just the Bokens that have experienced this.  It could happen to anybody, anywhere.  If there’s an example of that it’s Megan.  Megan was the most innocent victim you could ever find,” Paul Boken said.

“It just seems like such a no brainer. If this could happen because of her, it makes it easier.  It makes it easier,” Kopec said.

In keeping people from being targeted for their phones, there will be glory beyond game night.

Email: Andy.Banker@tvstl.com
Follow me on Twitter: AndyBankerTV
Facebook:  Andy Banker on FOX2

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